In this visual poem, The Lonely Island shows us the secret rap album and turmoil that was going on behind the scenes in the 80’s for Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.
I know what a lot of you are thinking, why didn’t I review this one earlier? Or you might just be wondering what it even is, released in 2019 on Netflix, The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience was one of 2019’s best and most underrated features. Yes even at 30 minutes, I considered it one of the best because length and release platform have changed so much in recent years that even some shows have been considered films, so why not? It’s all entertainment and the lines that divided them have only grown thinner. Anyway I didn’t review this one but now I am okay? Okay.
The Lonely Island, primarily known for their funny songs, have been going through some interesting career choices over the years. Andy Samberg, the most known member due to his acting career, leads here with Akiva Schaffer as the titular Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire respectively, with the third member of the Lonely Island, Jorma Taccone appearing in minor roles throughout. Here they essentially make music videos strung together as a film, though unlike Popstar, another film of theirs, this one is meant to convey a fairly loose tale of fame, fortune and drug use. The trio have always been great with music, but seeing them tackle more films as of late has been great and I’d say this is their best work.
Biopics are a dime a dozen, some are great, but there’s no denying how often many fall for the same tropes, structure and themes, seeing this absurd “poem” meant to give us insight over our subject just feels fresh. It’s all meant to be comedic of course, we shouldn’t declare this as official, but considering how often biopics change aspects of their subjects life to paint flattering pictures, sometimes flattering only to award voters, it is great to see something so insane. In a way, it’s that insanity that makes it clear this was made with love for it’s subjects, sure it’s presenting fiction, but it’s not sugar coating anything, it’s not trying to make the Bash Brothers messiahs... well at least not in some dramatic way anyway.
Despite the comical aspect, it should be noted that one of the highlights to this is just how much of it looks artsy. From the lighting, to the filters, to even the choices in settings, a lot of it looks like some trippy art student’s feature. If it weren’t for the humor one could easily mistake this for something that’s trying to be deeper than it is (funny enough though I’d argue it has deeper messages than some genuinely “deep” films). It’s the kind of film you’d see making the rounds at some indie festival, then the comedy comes in and aside from making you laugh, reminds you to relax a little.
It’s an absurdist masterpiece that’s filled with funny and catchy songs. At no point do we believe Canseco and McGwire ever had a secret rap album, but we also don’t care if they did. The joys of seeing people create a narrative that allows for our interpretation of what crazy ideas went through the Bash Brother’s minds as fame devoured their sanity is enough to please. Years later, The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience remains one of my favorite things to hit streaming and probably my favorite Lonely Island project.
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Written By Octaviano Macias