I have looked for reviews online of this odd youtube clip but have found none so I think it is my responsibility to write a few lines on this very weird “movie.” As a screenwriter, to watch a “movie” that is almost entirely all improvisation is difficult. Where are the smart lines, the movement, or the structure to hold together the big circus tent of a movie? Which is all to say I haven’t seen many improved movies that I have really liked. What is it then about the Vodka Movie that makes it so irresistibly watchable to me?
This is moviedom that approaches Warhol-like performance art. Little more than set pieces and dialogue, the creators Tim and Eric and Zach Galifianakis create a mumbly, neon-driven cartoon world that reminds the viewer more of crack than vodka. While this is ostensibly a commercial, like another absurd set piece, the vodka comes and goes, about as much remarked upon as the elaborate wigs or the Christmas cookies in “Part Three.” In the course of the three parts of the movie, Zach blows up at Tim and Eric post-hot tub trip, on a beach, and at a Christmas party. There is little more plot than that. There is a slap fight on the beach. A pair of girls appear in Part Three. Spoiler alert: Zach walks off set at the end.
In “Part Three” Tim tells Zach they decided “not to overtly make fun of the product while we’re doing this” but I can’t help imagine that this entire movie is just that, making fun of Absolut. At the beach, they add sand to the drink and during “Christmas” Zach douses the stuff with frosting and sprinkles. I feel that part of their dopiness is simply that they have been drinking way too much vodka—they pour the stuff into huge goblets and sip it like water. They mention that the vodka goes well with cookies but that’s about it. Why would Absolut agree to have their product dissed?
I think the powerful thing about this movie is its sincere belief in goofiness. It appeals to the audience’s fourth grade brain, the one that never got over the kid who ate paste. While there may not be any substance there, the green Jello will appeal to that same Jello-like part of the mind—the characters are having fun, so you should too. So, in a way, it’s persuasive without being persuasive—simply adding vodka as a part of the scenery is enough to convince watchers of Absolut’s appeal. Plus if you get drunk, you want to party with these people—they’re fun, absurd, and able to laugh at almost anything. While this may not appeal to all of America, for the segment Absolut wants to reach, the gooey-eyed young youtuber (hopefully responsible and old enough to drink) about to embark on an alcohol run, it is perfect.
Finally, is this commercial funny? Yes. It being a not-commercial adds a great deal of cache. You can laugh along to Zach’s antics, all at the expense of Absolut executives in Sweden. I find this completely watchable even as someone who doesn’t drink at all. But do not be fooled—you are watching a commercial. You can laugh, you can grow bored and frustrated, you can even share it with your friends, and then you can be softly persuaded to have Absolut at your next party, for as the commercial says, “In an Absolut world, friends would get together more often.”