I will never get tired of the way Akshay Kumar fully embraces the absurdity of the role handed to him. The director yells “Action!” and he dials it up to 11. An industry veteran like him must have realized long ago – You might be in a terrible film, but you shouldn’t be terrible in them. Enjoy yourself. Have fun. And he does. And we have fun with him. Kumar manages to channel his sincerity to the job at hand even if he doesn’t have to. He probably even throws in some improvisations which work like a charm so the director lets him be – because he’s just that good. You might walk into Housefull 4 in a different state of mind, fully ready to shit on the movie, and roll your eyes at every crass joke, and every misogynistic bit of dialogue, but the moment Akshay Kumar pops on-screen making a ridiculous face, you chortle and forget to have a bad time.
It’s difficult to find that sincerity in the other cast members, even the veterans. Riteish Deshmukh and Bobby Deol are in their element throughout the run-time but neither of them can evoke the same level of admiration that Kumar commands. Chunky Pandey remains Chunky Pandey. Johnny Lever remains serviceable. Housefull 4 is everything you expect it to be, but it has made me rethink everything. To me, this was going to be yet another terrible movie with a nonsensical plot filled with inappropriate humor at the expense of the marginalized. Note that it is yet another terrible movie with a nonsensical plot filled with inappropriate humor at the expense of the marginalized. So why did I find myself laughing and having a good time? Have my standards dropped? Maybe. But everyone else is having a good time in my metro city auditorium. I hear middle-aged uncles as well as 20-something college-going teenagers laughing at the same inappropriate jokes.
Maybe we do need a little bit of crass and misogynistic humor in our lives. Or maybe, we’ve learnt to take it for what it is – a joke. We fault Bollywood masala movies for catering to the lowest common denominator (the poor man, the village idiot), but deep down, we are all in the same boat, and we all find the same toilet humor funny. And it’s not like there are no redeeming features in this feature film. Some bits of dialogue do have brilliant writing, creativity and imagination. Meta-humor and references from other movies of the cast work brilliantly in context. Housefull 4 takes derivative plot points from the previous three tent-poles and still manages to be fresh. Apart from the undifferentiable performances from the three lead actresses, who I couldn’t tell apart with a gun to my head, I’d say you’re in for a pretty good time.
Bollywood doesn’t need these types of movies to survive, and I’d prefer they’d stop making them. And yet, I can’t fault this movie for existing simply because it has a job and it does it well.
Rating – 3/5