Back in the day, Albert Brooks made a nifty transition from producing “Saturday Night Live” shorts to full-blown movies. The Please Don’t Destroy trio don’t fare as well with “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain,” an irreverent and silly comedy that, keeping NBC’s modern stooges in the family, premieres on its Peacock streaming service.
The twentysomething team of Martin Herlihy, John Higgins and Ben Marshall wrote and star in the film, working with director Paul Briganti (another “SNL” product) and producer Judd Apatow. Throw in Conan O’Brien as the lanky Ben’s dad, and there are proverbial adults in the room, though obviously not imposing much serious supervision.
Think bigger canvas, same old shtick.
The plot, if you can call it that, has Ben, Martin and John embarking on a search for a legendary treasure. Ben is eager to impress his dad (who he works for at a store called Trout Plus), Martin spends a lot of time with his girlfriend (Nichole Sakura) and the hapless John, feeling neglected, really just yearns for an excuse to hang out with his buddies again.
Not surprisingly, what ensues has the feel of an assortment of sketches, with John Goodman serving as the narrator and “SNL’s” Bowen Yang popping in as a cult leader they encounter during their travels. As part of the treasure hunt, they also cross paths with park rangers (played by Meg Stalter and X Mayo) and an unusually aggressive hawk, just one of the vaguely surreal moments sprinkled throughout.
There’s obviously some talent at work here, but not much in the way of stretching, and the initial energy and sheer dorkiness doesn’t generate enough laughs – some decidedly low-brow (like John’s fascination with videos of mating animals), others cleverer – to sustain a movie. In that sense, Peacock essentially serves as an off-Broadway platform where the gang can workshop their material for potentially bigger projects ahead.
Please Don’t Destroy has become a staple of “SNL” with its viral videos, and it’s understandable both that the gang would aspire to try their hands at longer-form content and NBC would want to cultivate that while keeping them in the corporate fold.
Seen that way, this “Treasure” could very well yield dividends down the road. For now, “The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” more closely resembles a molehill.
“Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” premieres November 17 on Peacock.