A career criminal frames the son of the judge who incarcerated him and joins him in prison as his cellmate so he can make his life a living hell.
Let's Go to Prison (2006)
Directed by Bob Odenkirk
Written by Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Michael Patrick Jann
Starring Dax Shepard, Will Arnett, Chi McBride, David Koechner, Dylan Baker, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Shannon
Based on the book You Are Going to Prison by Jim Hogshire
Let's Go to Prison is The Shawshank Redemption for stupid people. It's a film about the horrors of prison, but it's done in a way that makes gang violence, psychological torture, and prison rape seem like minor inconveniences as long as you remain optimistic. I'm all about comedy in a strange place, but once you start trivializing a nightmarish scenario, your film loses all credibility and becomes a bad parody of a movie that doesn't exist. Such is the case with Let's Go to Prison, a film that's all set-up and zero delivery, except when it comes to toilet wine jokes.
Dax Shepard and Will Arnett are funny guys, given the right script. Their usually spot-on comedic timing falters big time as joke after badly conceived joke falls flat. Every time it seems like something interesting is going to happen, the film goes in the opposite direction. Hell, they kill off the perfect prison movie villain (Michael Shannon, in a very early role) halfway through and the rest of the inmates just go with it. Even in "funny" movie prison, things should happen a certain way to keep things believable. Then there's Chi McBride's attempted rape of Will Arnett that slowly evolves into an on-again/off-again romance that makes no sense whatsoever. I don't know what the writing team behind this was thinking, but I think it's clear they never did any research beyond trying to write a funny Oz.
This film is currently sitting at a 12% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. It's tough to argue with that. There's very little to like about the film, from its disinterested actors to its dumb, lukewarm ending. I'm surprised that Bob Odenkirk was in the director's chair, as he has proven his mettle as a comedy genius many times over. Then again, I guess everybody misses a step once in a while. Let's Go to Prison must've been his missed step.