'L.A. Riot' comes up far short of spectacular

Special to The Times

At a time when the Onion and "The Daily Show" handle social and political humor with dry wit and caustic skepticism and the broadband era makes topical jokes almost instantaneously obsolete, turning out a thoughtless satire on the Los Angeles riots of 1992 seems rather unnecessary and mystifyingly besides the point.

Yet along comes "The L.A. Riot Spectacular," written and directed by Marc Klasfeld. A veteran director of music videos, Klasfeld has for his feature film debut churned out a lifeless series of sketch-comedy ideas that presumably would make even the Wayans brothers blanch at their broadness. All the expected characters are represented, from Rodney King to Daryl Gates to Reginald Denny, set off on an obstacle course of lame, half-cooked ideas, mostly about the whole series of events having the tenor of a game show or awards ceremony for the benefit of the ever-present media (not exactly an incisively trenchant critique).

To call the film offensive or insulting would only give it more credit than it deserves and imply that Klasfeld's dulled barbs had somehow struck a target. Rather, the wild, scattergun way in which the attempts at humor run roughshod over any topic that comes along -- there's even a joke about Richard Gere and a gerbil needlessly thrown in -- only proves that the filmmaker has nothing to say or add regarding the topic at hand.


'The L.A. Riot Spectacular'

MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use

A Rockhard Films/Visionbox Pictures presentation. Writer-director Marc Klasfeld. Producers Klasfeld, John Bard Manulis. Director of photography Barry Norwood. Editor Richard Alarcon. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Exclusively at Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood (323] 848-3500, Friday and Saturday at midnight.

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