Nothing is more fun than a clever comedy playing dumb. In this case, ‘Mega Time Squad’ (which you can see in Filmin) is a farce of robberies and time travel aware that The material from which it starts, no matter how seriously you wanted to take it, would not stop being a monumental bullshit. Taking advantage of it is the bet of the director and screenwriter Tim van Dammen (almost debutante, before he had only signed an unknown musical update of ‘Romeo and Juliet’), and it works out really well.
For it portrays absolutely all of his characters as morons (roughly, almost all good-hearted, although their limitations cause them to commit clumsiness), unable to see beyond two feet of their noses. The extremely local setting in the small town of Thames, New Zealand (that is, watch out here: quirky demeanors and unassailable accents everywhere) rounds out the starting point.
In one of the best running gags In the movie, all the characters plug their aching ears every time someone fires a gun. They are so unaccustomed to trouble in Thames, and somehow, it is understood that the plans of the thieves are so insecure and very short term: rob the triads without thinking about the consequences, rob banks of three to a quarter … somehow, the sunny and silent New Zealand setting justifies the clumsiness of these criminals that turn the protagonists of ‘Fargo’, by comparison, into intellectuals.
But there is more, of course. One of our protagonists stumbles upon a Chinese bracelet that allows him to travel back in time. Couple of minutes back in time, specifically. What makes it unfold and find itself. But ‘Mega Time Squad’ doesn’t linger on paradoxes or contradictions of time travel and goes to what it goes: what happens when an idiot meets other idiots who are identical to him?
The Ninja Turtles of time travel
The most curious thing about ‘Mega Time Squad’ is that there are no sci-fi elements in the justification of time travel, rather it is a simple magic bracelet provided by a Chinese shop assistant that is pure stick-faced hilarity. And yet, he knows that the viewer knows the conventions of the genre when embracing, say, more realistic approaches, and toying with the humor that is extracted from someone’s encounter with himself.
And that’s the basis for ‘Mega Time Squad’, which is perfectly summed up in the movie’s title, the name that the multiplied protagonist gives to his own band composed entirely of temporary clones: that is to say, an adventure of idiotic humor, but at the same time very aware of the possibilities of his own foolishness. Another example: the sequence in which clones enter a house and wreak havoc, simply by being there.
All of this is reinforced by a suitably grotesque use of the setting. (New Zealand, that place where an old woman with a rifle standing in line on the bench is plausible) and for great performances always on the edge of the cartoon. The great protagonist (Anton Tennet) is joined by people like the mob boss Shelton (who you will remember as Jonny Brugh in ‘What we do in the shadows’).
The result is perfect for a short time (79 minutes rushing by) of humor and time travel code twisting and modest special effects but more than functional. New Zealand is still a happy place if you are looking for the most surprising and quirky comedy.