‘Take the 10’ is a decent addition to the made-for-Netflix catalogue
What could be better for movie-lovers than not having to leave the couch to watch new releases? — and no, this is not a public service announcement telling readers to start Torrenting moves. Netflix, which is responsible for producing some of the best new original series in recent memory, is now dabbling in movies. Sadly, they haven’t been as successful in this field. With a few exceptions, many of of their releases receive little acclaim or attention. It almost feels like the movies are treated as though they aren’t worthy of theatrical releases, so a Netflix release is the best alternative to scrapping the project all together. Perhaps, Netflix movies are becoming the equivalent of “made for TV” movies when people actually watched TV on the TV.
“Take the 10” doesn’t necessarily fit this mold of mediocrity. Although it might not be groundbreaking, it never feels like a project that was put on life support, and Netflix was its last dying chance for revival.
Made-for-Netflix movies could be a way for up-and-coming directors to get their feet wet in the industry, exposing new talent to wide audiences. Chester Tam (“Popstar”) has his directorial debut with “Take the 10,” while also starring as a drug dealer who feels emasculated by his girlfriend. Alongside Tam is Toni Revolori (“Dope”) and Nickelodeon sensation, Josh Peck (“Red Dawn”). Both actors have matured since their launches into stardom, so shedding memories of both actors as their adolescent selves is challenging. Who could forget Revolori’s stellar performance as Zero Moustafa in Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”? Or, a younger and chubbier Peck in “Drake and Josh”? Nonetheless, both provide strong, convincing performances.
In fact, the acting makes up for the weak dialogue and lazy gags throughout the movie, giving impressive deliveries to jokes that sometimes feel like an eighth grader wrote. The film focuses on three intertwining events of nonconventional criminals breaking the law in strange ways. Chris (Peck) and Chester (Ravolori) work at a parody of Whole Foods —aptly titled Wholeish Foods— and are planning on going to a rap concert in the Inland Empire of California. However, when trying to sell his car for money, things quickly get complicated for Chester. Ultimately, the Craigslist buyer steals his “vintage” 1997 Toyota. On top of this, the antagonists always find themselves running into Chris and Chester in ways that are too convenient and unbelievable. With a disappointing ending, the story of “Take the 10” is not its strong point.
Andy Samberg (“Popstar”) and Fred Armisen (“Portlandia”) make brief, underwhelming appearances. If these minor roles weren’t occupied with A-list celebrities, their scenes would likely fail to gather any laughs.
Stereotypes are somewhat challenged in the movie, but without any subtlety. Most of the humor lies between making a racist joke and then denying that any racist joke was made. It’s like hinting that you hate a friend’s haircut without deliberately saying it and then continuing to deny your true feelings once the friend accuses you of hating it. It never works in “Take the 10.”
Although it sometimes feels like “Take the 10” has nothing going for it, the movie packs a lot into its 80-minute duration. Essentially, not one minute of the movie is dull. “Take the 10” isn’t trying to be a breakthrough for comedy, but rather an enjoyable movie to help unwind after a stressful day. The increased desire for mindless escapism through binge watching Netflix series is so prevalent today, and “Take the 10” fits the mold. For devoted binge watchers looking for past-paced entertainment, “Take the 10” will be a welcomed break between watching 10 episodes of “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”