No Spoilers. (If you want a more in-depth spoiler review leave comments)

Broken Lizard Quasi
Steve Lemme as Quasi

When this project was first announced in November 2021, it was promoted of satirical take on Hugo’s The Hunchback Notre Dame. This would have seemed novel to those unfamiliar with the 1999 parody of the novel, Quasimodo del Paris and thus an interesting take for an adaptation. When the first trailer dropped it seems like the project was Broken Lizard’s attempt to be Monty Python with a Hunchback named Quasi through in. It didn’t seem like a parody of novel or the character. And after watching the movie it still doesn’t.

Quasi Versus The Book

The first thing the movie tells you, is that you the viewer don’t know the story. You didn’t read the book. A bold assumption since most people have a basic bit of knowledge, even if from the Disney version.

The movie also sets the story in 13th century so it’s doubtful the viewer or anyone on the production read novel or went to the novel’s wiki page. The novel is set in 1482. So either they didn’t know that or the production was confused on how the dating system works. This movie sets the story in the 13th century or the 1200s.

Is this Movie REALLY a Parody?

Aside from Quasi, whose full name is Quasi Modo, having a hunchback is there anything within the movie that makes it a parody of the novel or any previous movie versions? Quasi mentions that he grew up in a bell-tower and there are bell related jokes. Are there any mentions to any characters from the book? No. It’s just the hunch and bells. Though there is a character named Claude who is Pope’s man but that is more incidental than anything.

Oddly the movie does have similarities with common with the Enchanted Tales version and The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo involving Quasi’s backstory.

A Style of Humor

As far of the humor goes, it’s subjective. If you like the Broken Lizard style of humor maybe you will like Quasi. There are some instances that were almost funny but not much landed. Brevity was needed. There is a lot about oysters. Like a lot lines of dialogue about oysters. Just so much about Oysters.

Is it an Actual Satire?

The satirical aspect is more about medieval power structures but the film does nothing interesting, clever or funny with it. There was little of that in the book especially since the King Louis was very hands-off with governing and only cared when he thought the mob was attacking Notre Dame. There is more in the book about the court system and it seems disingenuous to the character that Quasimodo would go into practice of torture as a profession. But remember no one read book, the prologue made that clear.

As far as parodies or satire go, Quasi misses the mark for being one for Hugo’s novel. It states that no one read the book as a a get out jail free card which doesn’t work. The novel has been retold so many times, even by Hugo himself, that no one really cares if a version is by the book or not. Saying lines like that just puts itself in opposition with viewer. At most, it’s referential to the novel since it a slight knowledge of it but really this version is a protracted comedy sketch.

Final Thoughts

If you are already a fan of Broken Lizard and you want something to watch, go for it. Most of the reviews say if you turn your brain off for 90 minutes it’s alright. Though they’re more entertaining movies if you want to shut your brain off.

If you have ever slightly enjoyed any Hunchback version in the past do not watch. It’s a hard pass. It’s only nominally a version of the story.

.5 out 10 Bells  

Side note – This movie did make me curious about the history of oyster consumption, so I guess that is a point in it’s favor. Because Oysters! It’s still weird even after watching this movie.

4 Thoughts on “Is Broken Lizard’s Quasi actually a Horrific Half-Formed Mess?

  1. unimpressed on 04/30/2023 at 2:03 pm said:

    i’m not even gonna give it a try. i’m so done with being disappointed by yet another adaptation that it offends me at this point. nope. that’s it.

  2. Esmee on 04/29/2023 at 12:06 am said:

    I had hope for this one. Not high hopes…not Esmeralda hoping that Phoebus will come rescue her hope. But I had hope. Not much was given away in the trailer, but it didn’t look like a traditional (even for a parody/satire) retelling of the story, but I wanted to give this version the benefit of the doubt. When I saw the opening of the film, I thought, “Oh. Okay. So maybe this will be a satire/parody of the ‘this will kill that’ theme”. And honestly, had it been that, I’d be okay with this and be able to call it an adaptation. But nope…that opening and the name of the main character were it. And then the running gag of the oysters…is that a call back to another project from the same group? I’m not really familiar with the production team’s work, so if it is, it needed some pretense for those in the audience who don’t know. Or are oysters viewed as a fancy food? More context was needed for that joke to work. I want to know what the thought process was in choosing Quasimodo as the title character. Was it some guys getting drunk/high and one saying, “I wanna tell a story ’bout a hunchback. What name do I give him?” “Dude! The most famous hunchback is Quasimodo”. And they just added the part at the beginning about the book for funsies. It kind of felt like a “D” grade creative writing project or really bad fanfic that someone decided to make into a movie.

    • jess on 04/29/2023 at 3:59 pm said:

      I haven’t seen any other Broken Lizard movies so I do not get the oyster gag either. But I think you’re right they just pick a food considered fancy. I guess they get some point for using an actual prized oyster from France…? I didn’t even get the guy getting taller joke till I saw explained it on reddit. Especially since it was said that the rack didn’t work to straighten Quasi but worked on his friend’s height.
      I think you might be on to something with their creative process they used Quasimodo because he is the most well-known Hunchback character there is and they did a “sequel” based on a classic piece of lit they didn’t bother to read or skim or look into beside bell-tower.
      I think the “this will kill that” theme could have been a good basis for satire but that would have meant they they read the book and they didn’t. It could have been something but it was just bad.

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