No Spoilers. (If you want a more in-depth spoiler review leave comments)
Back 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 it still doesn’t.
The first thing the movie tells you is that you the viewer don’t know the story because you didn’t read the book. Bold assumption since most people know a basic bit of knowledge even if from the Disney version. The movie also sets the story set in 13th century so it’s doubtful the viewer or anyone on the production read novel or went to the novel’s wiki because the novel is well set up 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 which are the 1200s.
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. It’s just seems 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.
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 profession. But remember no one read book, the prologue made that clear.
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 wear almost funny but not much landed. Brevity was needed. There is a lot about oysters. Like a lot lines of dialogue about oysters.
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 but saying lines like that at the start just puts itself in opposition with viewer. At most it’s referential to the novel since it a slight knowledge of it or it’s a protracted comedy sketch.
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 that would accomplish that.
If you have enjoyed any Hunchback version in the past and that the is the only reason you know this movie’s existence, hard pass. It’s only nominally a version of the book.
.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.