I first met Bert Kreisher”The Car” during my college Thanksgiving vacation. My friend poured shots of real Russian vodka and while we were lounging around decided to show me and another friend a bit of Kreischer. I’ve always loved stand-up comedy, but Kreischer’s way of telling stories and making me laugh was really something special. I watched two Kreischer specials on Netflix the next day and quickly became a fan. For those unfamiliar with the legend of the Machine, the story is that Kreischer was diligently hanging out with the Russian mafia when he was an exchange student, which resulted in him robbing a train with a gang of mafiosi.



When it was announced that Kreischer would make his film debut with CarI was obviously extremely excited. Director Peter Atenciowho made a very underrated Key and Peel movie Keanu, and starring Mark Hamill as Kreischer’s father, it was great to see Kreischer get the chance to tell this story on the big screen. Unfortunately, for a while it looked like the film might be delayed due to the Russo-Ukrainian war. This prompted Kreischer to take matters into his own hands. He “leaked” the trailer and the positive response led to Legendary Pictures teaming up with Sony to release the film.

IN Car, Kreischer plays a fictionalized version of himself. Like his real-life counterpart, he gained notoriety by telling his story about The Machine on stage, which led to him landing merchandising deals, appearing on late-night talk shows, and co-hosting a highly successful podcast. 2 bears 1 cave with your best friend Tom Segura. At the beginning of the film, Kreischer is going through hard times. His parties were completely out of control, to the point where he was live streaming his 16-year-old daughter Sasha (Jessica Gabor) was arrested and he canceled his stand-up tour due to “family issues”. Throwing a sweet sixteen party for Sasha, Kreischer is annoyed by the arrival of his father, Albert (Hamill), with whom he has a strained relationship. The party plans soon fall apart when Irna (Iva Babich), the daughter of a Russian crime boss, takes father and son to Russia to recover what Kreischer stole from her father during college.

“The Machine” starts slowly before picking up pace

Bert Kreischer in the car
Image via Legendary Pictures

One of the aspects that stands out the most in Car just how dark it gets. It’s not often as fun as one would expect from a stand-up comedian’s film debut. In fact, when we first meet Kreischer in the movie, he doesn’t look like the kind of person we’ve seen in stand-up or podcasts. In fact, he is completely unattractive and an absolute loser who ruins every positive relationship he has. It makes the entire first act of the movie rough. Almost all of the quips and jokes are completely out of place and make the movie extremely awkward. The pace is sluggish in the first 30 minutes, and I was intimidated by the rest of the film’s nearly two-hour runtime.

Once the characters get to Russia, Car becomes much more enjoyable. The jokes are still not as frequent or effective as fans would like, but the action is surprisingly well filmed and choreographed. There aren’t many quick cuts, and Atencio lets the violence really play out. He even dares to get a little rough. It’s also not an ugly movie to watch as both Atencio and the cinematographer. Eigil Brild give the film a surprisingly very cinematic feel, especially when the characters visit Russia. From mafia-occupied grand palaces to quaint villages and trains, on a technical level, the film is more than competent.

Kreischer brings his stage persona into the film for better or worse, as it sometimes frustrates when the film tries to make quieter moments. He plays himself as Homer Simpson. He’s dumb, a little dumb, but he has a good heart after all. Hamill is also fit in his role, but unfortunately Kreischer and he don’t have much chemistry with each other and feel like a mismatched couple. Jimmy Tatro believable in his role as the younger Bert. He is able to capture many of his mannerisms and comedic rhythm. However, the film’s real standout is Babich as Irina, who plays the badass femme fatale superbly and is able to deliver some really hilarious one-liners. Babić also works very well together with Kreischer. Their banter with each other is at the center of the film’s best moments when Kreischer has to remove a splinter from her leg.

There are few jokes in the “Machine”

Bert Kreischer lights a cigar from a machine gun in The Machine.
Image via Sony

Admittedly, Car too long, especially for comedy. Just when you think the movie is about to end, he decides to hang on for another 30 minutes. The jokes still don’t come across often enough, and in many cases the movie tries to be funny by dropping a line or two, which is nowhere near as effective as it should be. In addition, the pace is felt throughout. There is a subplot in the film’s flashbacks of a potential romance between a young Kreischer and a classmate who isn’t going anywhere, and also adds little to the film, especially since Kreischer’s character is already married to another woman. You also never really feel an emotional attachment to the characters, as the film struggles between meaner and more cynical humor and moments that should be sincere but instead just feel awkward and out of place.

It’s truly great to see a comedy like this on the big screen again, and Kreischer’s ability to promote this film is a feat in itself. Car has enough merit to recommend fans of Kreischer’s stand-up comedy, but other viewers may walk away feeling devastated.

Rating: B-

Car now plays in theaters.