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Tooken (Review)

A watchable comedic effort

by Nav Qateel

Ex-CIA operative Bryan Millers (Lee Tergesen) finds himself caught up in the world of exploding-puppy dealing, after he, his mother and wife are tooken hostage. The bungling ex-spy must battle erectile-dysfunction, some dubious criminals and the object of his horny daughter's desire.

I have to put my hands up to enjoying parodies. Even films like John Asher's Tooken, which I sort of expected wouldn't be anything special, and I wasn't disappointed. When it came to humor, for every one thing writers Cameron Van Hoy and John Asher got right, they got two wrong, especially when it came to the visual gags. And yet I still found myself occasionally laughing heartily.

Tooken
Directed by John Asher
Cast Lee Tergesen, Reno Wilson, Lauren Stamile
Release Date 26 May 2015
Nav's Grade: C-

Setting aside the obvious self-deprecating racial stuff whose only real offense was to fail to be amusing, the rest was a mix of genuine humor and poor attempts at same. Like with all low-budget, schlocky parodies, Tooken relies on the viewer having seen the original film or franchise that's about to be spoofed, in this case Pierre Morel's Taken. The industriously prolific Lee Tergesen, bravely tackles his Bryan Millers' character the only way one could when given this type of role, ... with abandon, but not necessarily wreckless.

Liam Neeson's accent and his natural intensity were obvious targets for the writers, and at this they scored quite well. By changing the family surname to "Millers" then having Tergesen strongly emphasize the final "s" was rather amusing the first 80 times it was uttered. Like with almost all low budget parodies, Tooken needed a few recognisable names to throw around, and here the filmmakers shamelessly welded on names like Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy and Akon, whose collective screen-time couldn't have been more than 60 seconds. But that's the name of the game. The ending of Tooken was flat-out batshit, which is probably what Asher and his team were going for in the first place.

The tech aspects were surprisingly decent, as were makeup and wardrobe. The acting was also a plus, and I especially liked Reno Wilson's balls-to-the-wall attitude and Lee Tergesen wacky performance. Tooken is about as good as parodies get, and was certainly better than the majority I've had to suffer through. While i'm glad I watched Tooken, I don't expect to be rushing out to buy it on Blu-ray anytime soon. Or ever.

Worth a gander.

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