Shysters (2011) – By Cary Conley

Shysters follows two insane criminals who have been released from prison after agreeing to see a court-appointed psychiatrist. Both criminals have faked their way through their adult lives, making a living as everything from hotel managers to doctors to spies. We get to follow their story as the two hucksters, Butch Bumstead (G. Larry Butler) and his sidekick Reynaldo (Nick Razavi) recount their adventures for the psychiatrist (James Grimm).

Shysters is described as a wacky comedy and that’s at least partly true. The film certainly is wacky as our two heroes and a whole host of supporting actors bumble their way across the screen, overacting as they go. But unless you enjoy juvenile humor, you might disagree with the description of the film as a comedy. Chock full of bad jokes and even worse set pieces, for the most part I failed to see the humor in the film. Filled with particularly bad potty humor (for example, the psychiatrist tells the two numbskulls to please "sit erect" and they promptly check out each others’ crotches), often times the "funny" scenes have the two main characters slapping each other like two girls, which is meant to be funny but really isn’t.

I don’t mean to be too harsh because this may be some people’s brand of humor, but frankly, I didn’t find the film very funny at all, which is deadly for a comedy. And at an hour and 45 minutes, it is much too long. Since the film is really just a series of set pieces broken up by scenes of the two in the psychiatrist’s office, the film could realistically be broken up into two separate shorter pieces that might be easier to sit through. As it stands, the formula really drags.

A quick check of IMDb told me that Shysters was made over a 16-year period. Unfortunately, it looks just like it was made over a long period of time. Most of the scenes are slightly fuzzy and pixilated and in some scenes, the dialogue isn’t quite synched with the actors. You can tell which scenes are older and which are relatively new by the picture quality. For instance, it looks to me very much like the newer scenes are perhaps all the scenes at the psychiatrist’s office.

To be fair, all is not lost with Shysters. G. Larry Butler who plays the Bumstead character is a good actor. His character is probably most similar to "Moe" of The Three Stooges fame. But the material he has to work with isn’t as strong as his acting ability, which really limits his performance. He runs around the movie using a raspy, screeching voice that becomes quite irritating very quickly. But poor Razavi is relegated to a mostly non-speaking part as the semi-mute and totally insipid sidekick Reynaldo who frequently shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes in response to the domineering Bumstead. Razavi might be a good actor, but when the comedy is limited to gags like running into furniture in a hallway and falling down, there just isn’t enough quality material with which to work.

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, those who really like lowbrow humor or really silly films may disagree with me. Who knows? Perhaps, in time, Mr. Ravazi will be recognized as the Ed Wood of our generation and Shysters as the new Plan 9 from Outer Space. If wacky comedies are right up your alley, then check out the trailer for Shysters at http://www.MySpace.com/video/vid/106789057.