Movie Review: The Machine

Bert Kreischer's legendary tale makes for an amusing action comedy.


Imagine partying so hard that they make a movie about it.

And then, 20 years later, they make an entirely different movie about it.

Bert Kreischer, the comedian and podcaster whose prowess for having a good-time is the stuff of legend, was once lauded by Rolling Stone as “the top partyer at the nation’s top partying school.” That led to a movie about his exploits, the comedy “Van Wilder,” which launched his stand-up career.

Among Kreischer’s signature tales is one concerning a manic study-abroad trip to Russia, wherein Kreischer introduces himself to a roomful of low-level mafiosos by blurting out, “I am the machine.” Briefly taken in as something of a mascot and co-conspirator by the goons, Kreischer committed some petty crimes and gained an epic story (first told publicly in Pittsburgh, on the WDVE Morning Show).

Now, that tale is its own movie. “The Machine” flashes back to Kreischer’s real-life brush with organized crime while inventing a fictional return to Russia; new heavies, led by a steely, ambitious gangster (Iva Babic), kidnap Bert and whisk him off to the motherland to clean up some of the messes he made a quarter-century ago.

Admittedly, it’s an odd moment for a wacky Russian romp, though the movie certainly couldn’t be described as glorifying the country. It will also appeal more to Kreischer’s existing fans (and those otherwise primed for his brand of madcap, high-energy chaos) then the uninitiated.

Undeniably, though, it’s a wacky and raucous good time. Kreischer is more than capable of playing an elevated version of himself, reacting with hilarious panic at the escalating danger. And Mark Hamill, playing a fictionalized version of Kreischer’s father, is clearly having an excellent time.

While introducing “The Machine” at its world premiere (clips of which were shared at special opening-night showings nationwide), Kreischer implored audiences to bring their friends to cinemas so that more comics can make more wild projects. It’s a worthy cause — movie theaters shouldn’t exclusively be the territory of epic blockbusters. There should be more theatrical releases with the energy and attitude of “The Machine.”

My Rating: 7/10

“The Machine” is now playing in theaters.

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