Streaming Releases: Jamie Kennedy: Stoopid Smart (2020) - Reviewed

Standup comedy movies are somewhat of a challenge to review. There are not a lot of different production aspects to discuss or plot or character. It is usually just one person standing on a stage telling jokes in front of a generally static camera. In Stoopid Smart, that person is Jamie Kennedy, best known for Scream 1 and 2, as well as his hidden camera prank show The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. In this special, it is him performing on a stage in the back of a bowling alley, riffing on various subjects, throwing in several impressions along the way for good measure. I laughed at a handful of lines and his delivery is pretty solid. However, his longer bits are his weakest ones and that drags the entire thing down.

The early material, focusing on his career and his current level of fame, is amusing, containing a couple of charmingly self-deprecating punchlines. There are a bunch of references to his ongoing role in the Tremors movies (which I was unaware were still being made). Unfortunately, he never delves into anything personal. It all stays very safe (this is also true of Stoopid Smart as a whole). This section has the most potential, but he spends too little time on it for it to develop into something stronger. 

Kennedy ends with some awkward stuff about race, skirting around anything real, like he is afraid of offending people. That leads to a weird digression into technology and PC culture that does not actually go anywhere. There are mildly funny bits in there, but with no larger point to tie them together. Despite its topicality, he does not have much to say about any of this. That makes it very strange that he decided to include it in the first place. It does not flow smoothly with what came before.

Through most of Stoopid Smart, Kennedy comes off as fairly likable. That is especially impressive when you consider the lengthy middle portion, a derivative series of stories and observations about relationships, gender differences and dating experiences. Without analyzing his jokes too deeply, let me just say that they are outdated and kind of sexist. He plays into many stereotypes, mostly about women, though a few about men as well, to score cheap laughs. Women are oblivious teases and men are dumb slugs who are only interested in sex. His approach to this lacks any nuance or insight. It is cliché after cliché. While the rest of his set is not great, it at least showcases his personality. This material feels like it could belong to any '90s comic. 

Jamie Kennedy has a decent stage presence. He tries to come off conversationally. With a couple of exceptions, he is not particularly animated, using his voice to tell a story, instead of his body. He mainly stays in the same area of the stage. He is not a physical performer. Since there is so little to see, that leaves only his material, and the way he delivers his jokes, to entertain the viewer. Bottom line: it is not funny enough. He has a few chuckle-worthy moments yet, overall, Stoopid Smart has a little too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

--Ben Pivoz