1½ stars (out of four)
There probably is a funny comedy to be made from the premise of an effete rich guy being sent to a penitentiary. But the juvenile "Let's Go to Prison," which opened Friday, never comes close to locating it.
John (Dax Shepard) is a guy who has spent most of his life as a ward of our criminal justice system. After being sent away three times by the same judge, he becomes consumed with exacting revenge. But fate forces him to focus his frustration on the judge's son, the spoiled, self-absorbed Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett).
John frames Nelson for a felony assault rap, then gets himself busted so he can enjoy his foil's torment firsthand. He even talks Nelson into taking him as a cellmate.
Then, in the guise of showing his naive and terrified bunk mate the ropes in jail, John instead puts him into some tough situations.
Arnett, of TV's "Arrested Development," is perfectly suited to the role of a lamb living in a tiger cage. But this movie, a sort of frat boy version of "Cool Hand Luke," doesn't give him much material to work with.
"Let's Go to Prison's" principal joke is that a burly black prisoner (Chi McBride of TV's "The Nine") wants to be the new guy's bunk buddy.
That's as funny as it gets. You'd do better to watch the scene in "Starsky & Hutch" where the guys interview Will Ferrell in jail. You'd get all the homoerotic humor of "Let's Go to Prison" in a fraction of the time.
This really isn't a comedy. It's more of a woolly spoof, stretched out to criminal lengths.
'Let's Go to Prison'
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. MPAA rating: R (language, sexual content, some violence, drug use).Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times