Get Hit, which premiered on IFC last week, is the untrue story of a pair of knuckleheads who hit the YouTube jackpot with their first viral video, The Ball Kicking Fight Club (which is kinda funny, but doesn’t compare with You’ve Been Kicked in the Nuts).
The series follows their attempt to recreate their success with Spud Gun War, a sci-fi epic about potato launchers. It flips between narrative and mock-documentary as our heroes offer tips on how to make a winning web video, such as the importance of a tight edit and keeping the script between 0 and 2 pages.
If only they had taken their own advice…
The duo have had their own brush with web stardom, as the winners of an IFC short film contest which scored them a trip down under to shoot a web-series promoting Australia as a tourism destination. The result was Chasing Paradise, though judging by their YouTube hit count the series probably didn’t do much for Tourism Austrailia’s bottom line.
Nevertheless, IFC has given Franco & Billy another shot at viral fame with Get Hit. It’s not hard to see what IFC likes about these guys; they’re fun to watch, particularly Blomquist, the more maniacal of the two. Wiens is likable but harder to pin down, and his role in the series seems to fluctuate between straight man and a slightly softer version of the same character Blomquist plays.
But both are funny and capable actors, and they do have that alterna-comedy edge that’s worked for other contemporary troupes, such as Tim & Eric, Human Giant, and STELLA. Franco and Billy share a similar man-child sensibility, with an emphasis on absurdity, violence, and gross-out humor – all pillars of the sketch comedy boom.
Unfortunately, Get Hit doesn’t have the outrageousness nor the wit to distinguish themselves from the the pack. Despite the “how to make a viral hit” premise (which is now on the bring of being played out ), there aren’t many jokes specifically about viral media. They only discuss about one production tip per episode, most of which could apply to any sort of filmmaking process. The rest of these six to eight minute videos are filled up with overlong sequences of sketch-type humor that never reaches the “so awkward it’s funny” checkpoint.
There are still several laughs in the series, particularly in the first and final episode. The finale (above) has some particularly good visual gags, including a ridiculously forlorn shot of both men slowly retreating from the world into giant foam-rubber potato costumes. Internet Phenom Liam Sullivan (of Kelly Loves Shoes fame) also shows up for a funny bit on how fame changes people.
Here’s the video the characters ultimately create to regain their web stardom.
It’s a spot-on parody of overblown science fiction stories, at least until it turns into repeated shots of men getting hit with potatoes. As with the Ball Kicking Fight Club, these video premises are just dumb and violent enough to believable be YouTube hits; but the biggest disappointment of Spud Gun War is that no one actually gets hit with a potato gun, nor is the fakery either convincing or overt enough to be funny.
Look, I’m not saying I want to see someone actually hit with a potato going 400 miles per hour. But if actual YouTubers are willing to find more satisfyingly dangerous ways to use these contraptions (don’t try this at home, kids!), couldn’t the makers of Get Hit actually come up with something crazy enough to actually be a moderate viral hit? And maybe they could’ve put the viral videos on YouTube beforehand as a practice in good marketing?
This show is full of slapstick involving crotch shots and characters getting maimed, but presenting it within the framework of viral media, which is rich with authenticity or at least convincing fakes, makes it all seem tame.
This series might have been better off without those expectations of viral stardom, if it had simply been based around how to make a winning short film. The public seems to like movies about making movies.