It's surprising that Wasabi Tuna was not an all-out catastrophe. Wasabi Tuna is one of those madcap capers in the vein of things like Rat Race and Bubble Boy (sure there's other more recent ones but couldn't think of them) where large groups of people interact for comedic effect. The jokes in Wasabi Tuna are not that funny, but the situations are so bizarre and director Lee Friedlander and writer Celia Fox make all of the weirdness gel together in a semi-coherent fashion. It's worth it just to see how the two do so. Otherwise, the film looks very low budget, but this doesn't affect the quality much. Most of the film is told in flashback. Two detectives are questioning Harvey (Barney Cheng, Hollywood Ending, Rollerball) and Evan (Jason London, Grind, Out Cold) about the events that lead up to where the are now. They serve as the narrators, who reveal the surprisingly complex route of the friends.
It all begins simply enough with Halloween. Every year, Harvey, Evan, and their friend Dave (Tim Meadows, The Cookout, Mean Girls), Fredrico (Antonio Sabato, Jr., Testosterone, Shark Hunter), and Emme (Alanna Ubach, Waiting..., Herbie: Fully Loaded) always go as food. This year, a few want to go as spicy tuna (with wasabi hats to show they are spicy), but instead opt to go as gangsters. To this end, they watch old gangster movies, amass a large amount of fake guns, trade Dave's Porsche for a more appropriate (and pimped out) car, and try to dress the part.
Other things are happening, and it would spoil the film to reveal them here. Needless to say, Evan and Barney fail to deliver a Ming vase to a man, setting events in motion. Soon, real Los Angeles gangsters, a horde of drag queens dressed as Anna Nicole Smith (including a fat one, a black one, and a midget one), the real Anna Nicole Smith (Be Cool, To The Limit), some cops, and some lazy hit men all mix themselves up into the fray. Wasabi Tuna has a few things going against it. Meadows does not have the greatest choice in films, but typically, they get worse as his role increases. It's pretty disappointing, since he was so enjoyable on Saturday Night Live. He's decent here. Smith is also a wildcard. Friedlander gives her a relatively small role so she doesn't embarrass herself. There are many jokes/parodies here, and on balance there are more misses than hits, but Friedlander and Fox never give the impression that they're trying too hard.
|Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated R for sexual content.|
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