A scene from "3,2,1 ... Frankie Go Boom." (Handout )
The abiding principle of screwball comedy is that as situations worsen for the characters in the story, the enjoyment level for the audience improves. That is not the case with "3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom," a noisy stab at wacky wrongness that starts with reasonably plump possibility as a dispatch from the frontlines of viral video embarrassment hell.
Skittish wannabe author Frankie (Charlie Hunnam), a self-imposed desert hermit, gingerly tests the waters of letting back into his life wayward brother Bruce (Chris O'Dowd), the man who made Frankie an Internet sensation with a humiliating, secretly filmed video.
When Frankie discovers his performance-challenged night with a kooky stranger (Lizzy Caplan) has also been surreptitiously recorded by Bruce to further his filmmaking career, the race to retrieve the tape is on. But instead of truly carefree, unexpected humor, writer-director Jordan Roberts doubles down on forced zaniness and witless hysteria.
This is one of those strange cases where a talented cast — which includes Nora Dunn, Whitney Cummings, Chris Noth and Hunnam's "Sons of Anarchy" colleague Ron Perlman as a post-op transsexual — is made to look hard-working yet ineffectual, which in a comedy regrettably yields desperation, not laughs.
"3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.