Okay, so this was like hanging out with an old friend from college. One of the wild, hilarious, unpredictable ones with whom you shared some insane nights. Now you’re both 30, though, so everything’s a little tamer, and the one time a year you get together, you tend to just tell stories about the old days and laugh your ass off. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and you still look forward to seeing the friend. But because times have changed and that specific period in your life is over, you don’t feel the same raw vitality, like anything and everything is on the table. It’s a pleasurable rehash, and then you both go home without really making any new memories.
In “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6,” we see a lot of the same gags from the LW5, the unbelievably offensive and technologically deficient film Mac and Dennis made back in season six. First off, Mac is in blackface, and the makeup, as we find out in a later shower scene (yup) covers his entire body. Even Dee joins the blackface club, playing Murtaugh’s daughter in a wedding scene. Dennis still chooses to play Riggs with Mel Gibson’s Australian accent, and he and Mac once again switch roles halfway through the production when the shower scene ruins Mac’s blackface. Unlike in season six, they now have the luxury of not explaining these strange plot twists, and can devote themselves entirely to the gimmick.
So, quickly, the “plot.” Frank is Chief Lazarus, a vaguely Native American figure who wants to do a magical rain dance and flood the planet so he can make money selling both umbrellas and beach-front property on the reservation. He rises from the dead with the help of a shaman, and along with an evil Danish twin (Charlie) bent on revenge, they infiltrate the wedding of Murtaugh’s daughter to Riggs and blow her to bits (“I love weddings,” says Frank, “they’re always such a…blast”). Riggs and Murtaugh are hellbent on foiling his plan and getting their own vengeance, and after Murtaugh gets his badge back, they track the Chief back to his umbrella factory, where they kill him and Charlie when Murtaugh shoots a basketball at a trap door button and sends Frank, Penguin-like, into a burning vat.
The real fun, though, comes in the screw-ups. Dee’s parts are almost always edited out after a line of dialogue, and a scene in a strip club where she begins a sexy dance draws groans from Mac and Dennis. The Mac-is-gay storyline is also in full effect, as observed by a homoerotic volleyball game and the subsequent shower scene, where male butts are on full display. Mac’s (black) butt also makes an appearance, but he uses a butt double. Dennis’ Australian accent kills, as does his list of sexual positions he has mastered—Seeded Scissors, Reverse Piledriver and Wheelbarrow, among others. At one point in the film, a “biting bug” that Charlie and Frank purchased from China bites the entire cast, leading to very uncomfortable films. Oh, and Artemis plays a priest who wears a beard, if you’re into that kind of thing.
The bad news is that the gang has run out of money, and with their usual illogical approach, they visit a bank, a dot-com company and a hedge fund in their search for funding. One of the fun mysteries of Sunny is how they manage to even land these meetings, and watching the puzzled, slightly terrified expressions on the poor people they accost is always priceless. But nobody, of course, is willing to give them the money they need to finish the film, and so they have to turn to Frank. He’s game, on one condition: He wants a sex scene.
The gang is forced to comply, and the grotesque scene comes after the closing credits, as the words “But what also happened…” flash across the screen. The scene plays, with everything blurred out, at the bank where the gang originally pitched the film. “So, again, this is what we were trying to avoid by coming to you in the first place,” says Charlie, and it seems very much like they’ve returned just to show the final product.
There are a lot of laughs here, but there’s nothing too fresh. And that’s a problem for a show that has always been at its best when it falls on the spectrum between shocking and horrifying. Large swaths of this episode were predictable, like telling the same stories with your college friend every time you meet. It works, kinda, but in the same way that the friendship isn’t as strong or intense as younger days, the show has started to feel a little stale, like an homage to itself. Relying on old gags isn’t a formula that will sustain Sunny for very long, and as the ninth season ends and the tenth approaches, you have to wonder if this once-revolutionary comedy is finally spinning its wheels.