For the truth about "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Tour," let's parse the title.
Vaughn hosts the show, but the comics are Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco.
Is it "Wild"? Pretty mild, actually.
It's slightly "Western" since it begins in California and its monthlong schedule of 30 shows in 30 cities concentrates on that side of the Mississippi. No rodeo clowns, though.
"Comedy," not so much. This is where it gets complicated. The performers seem to be passable comics, the kind you'd see doing the middle act at your local chuckle hut. This one jokes about not having a girlfriend, that one about being Egyptian, the next about being a "Guido," and the other one does physical comedy bits. On "Last Comic Standing," they'd probably be cannon fodder.
It's hard to tell, though, because director Ari Sandel doesn't give them much opportunity to strut their stuff. With numbing literal-mindedness, Sandel shows us snippets from each and every stop on the tour, reducing the performance footage to a few one-liners from each guy, sandwiched between shots of the guys flaking out on the bus, backstage nerves and cutaways of the crowds.
The comics' life stories are ladled out in the same way. Rather than conceal and reveal information in ways designed to surprise us, the film has each performer hurriedly describe himself, speed-dating style. We learn that comedians are self-critical control freaks, which will surprise no one with basic cable access to Comedy Central.
Vaughn, who produced the film, seems like a fine guy. He offers guidance and encouragement to his crew and tries to give the audiences their money's worth by performing improv skits with Justin Long and other onetime co-stars.
The high point comes early when Jon Favreau shows up for one night. When Vaughn drafts Keir O'Donnell (the gay artist brother from "Wedding Crashers"), the tone of desperation is palpable. When the circuit is over, Vaughn salutes the cast as a brave band of brothers who have endured great hardships together. You might feel the same.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186