Similar to previous examples like The Lonely Island and Pete Davidson, the trio of comedians known as Please Don’t Destroy, who became popular for their digital shorts on Saturday Night Live, are branching out from the show to create their own feature film. However, their debut comedy film, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, was meant to be released in theaters but was instead released on Peacock. This decision was likely made to avoid drawing attention to the film’s lackluster quality. As comedy writers and actors, the members of Please Don’t Destroy – Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, and Ben Marshall – seem to be out of their element.
Their comedic style, while effective in small amounts, is not meant to diminish their brand. I have enjoyed some of their sketches, especially the ones posted on Twitter before their time on SNL, during the strange period of being online during the pandemic. When at their best, the trio’s humor is wonderfully absurd and witty, diving deep into bizarre scenarios such as Spongebob as a forgotten classmate, Ben imitating Post Malone’s face tattoos, or even a mockumentary about Martin’s life. Their approach is lighthearted, self-aware, and driven by their close friendship. These are the individuals who recently dressed up as Donkey, Puss in Boots, and Michael Jackson for a sketch titled “Bad Bunny Is Shrek,” and later revealed they came up with the idea at 1am.
The silly antics between best friends in the late hours of the night may be entertaining for a short while. However, it becomes much more challenging to sustain for 90 minutes. This is clear from the length of time it takes to watch Three Sad Virgins, and it is also evident that The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, directed by SNL veteran Paul Briganti, falls short in terms of comedic value.
In this scenario, the PDD gang takes on the roles of their own names, as well as their childhood best friends and roommates. They live in a mountain town, where their lives are portrayed in a comically exaggerated manner. All three of them work at Trout Plus, a sporting goods store owned by Ben’s father (played by Conan O’Brien, who acts as if he’s doing someone a favor, which he is). As they navigate through adulthood, each of them faces their own challenges. Martin, who wears glasses, is in a relationship with a born-again Christian and is getting baptized as an adult. Ben’s idea to turn the Trout store into a hair salon for little boys is not well-received by his father. John spends his time playing virtual poker with 11-year-olds and discovers a treasure map on TikTok. The guys exchange surprised looks, perform a silly dance, and hit the road.
The plot of The Treasure of Foggy Mountain feels predictable. The PDD boys gained popularity on the internet, leading to a spot on SNL. Despite the rushed nature of their script, they were able to secure talented actors and funding with the support of Judd Apatow. Due to the strong business potential of Foggy Mountain, a movie adaptation was inevitable, much like a boulder rolling down a hill.
It seems like little effort was put into this. The journey is filled with unimpressive antics involving money and friendship – two former park rangers now competing as hunters (Meg Stalter and X Mayo), a hidden tunnel, a strange computer-generated eagle, and a cult led by Bowen Yang (I hope he was fairly compensated). Some comedic moments include men wearing flying suits, doing the Soulja Boy dance, discussing the movie “Jennifer’s Body,” opening a ancient door by singing in harmony, and Gaten Matarazzo from Stranger Things appearing as himself. I am mentioning these elements because there is not much else to say about them; the jokes are weak and the likability dwindles as time goes on. These sketches from Please Don’t Destroy would be considered average at best if they were only a few minutes long, let alone spread out over three half-hour episodes. This even includes two bits that seem to mimic Tim Robinson’s brilliantly bizarre sketch series, I Think You Should Leave.
One aspect of this movie that I can appreciate is the PDD members’ unwavering dedication to their performances. It seems like they are enjoying themselves, or at least making an effort to see their acts through to the end. However, once the cult is introduced, everything falls apart and becomes chaotic (it’s never a good sign when a Taser is used in a comedy). At this point, I found myself relying on my phone to distract me from the constant stream of jokes that probably worked better on paper. Although I am a fan of Please Don’t Destroy and have genuinely laughed at their content before, this film as a representation of their internet comedy falls short. It may be worth trying again.
The film “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” is now available on Peacock in the US and will be coming to the UK later this year.