The world would be a much finer place if Dane Cook had never gotten an acting job. “Simon Sez” features one of his earliest and largest movie roles. In it, Cook is one half of one of the most regrettable buddy cop style duos of all time, alongside former NBA star Dennis Rodman. To Rodman’s credit, he holds up his end moderately well in the film. Cook, on the other hand, does not. It is one of the most unintentionally uncomfortable performances ever put on film. Nothing Cook says is funny, and he is putting every ounce of his effort into the lines, which ultimately just enhances how horribly written everything is (because the guy really can’t act).
Outside of the central players, the rest of the cast doesn’t exactly pick up the slack. Theoretic “comic relief” is provided by a pair of monks who work behind the scenes with Dennis Rodman’s super-spy character. We are also treated with a love interest for Rodman who spends most of her time doing astoundingly poor wire-work stunts, and a villain who enjoys cheesily chewing scenery throughout the run time.
One of the biggest issues with this movie (outside of the cast) is general inexperience behind the camera. This was director Kevin Elders’s first and only theatrical directorial feature, which I think explains a lot of the poor fight cinematography and the generally mediocre shots. To his credit, this is far from the worst shot movie I have seen, but it is still a good deal away from good.
Surprisingly, despite the many flaws, this movie is pretty watchable (whenever Cook isn’t on screen). It is still not good by any means, but it is possible to sit through as a mediocre action movie. The wire-work is bad enough to be funny, and there are a couple of genuinely dumbfounding moments that are enjoyable in an odd way (surprise bedroom strobe-lights during a sex scene). It isn’t quite enjoyable enough to recommend, but it isn’t necessarily a painful experience (save for, again, whenever Dane Cook is on screen).
Not unlike “Mitchell”, I think there might be a half-decent movie hiding in “Simon Sez” somewhere. Maybe with a different cast and a more experienced director, this could have been an ok action-comedy flick. Unfortunately, Dane Cook just isn’t capable of holding up the comedy half of an action-comedy duo, and Dennis Rodman is only just barely passable on the action end. “Simon Sez” just doesn’t reach it’s potential at all. From the foundation to the spire, this is an under-performer that doesn’t quite match the grandiose blueprints.