Smosh is one of the earliest success stories of YouTube. The channel founded by friends Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla reaches more than 22 million subscribers. Three different times since 2005, when the YouTube channel went live, it’s been the channel with the most subscriptions. Now, in YouTube’s push to create original content, they’ve turned to their early stars, handed them money, and said: “Do your thing!” Smosh does its thing with Ghostmates. But that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Ghostmates stars Hecox as Eddie, a shallow, unremarkable loser who gets himself killed in a way that leaves people believing he’s a pervert. It’s a running gag that comes up again and again. Padilla is Charlie, another somewhat shallow loser who dreams of making an epic comic book about a socialist possum. When Charlie rents Eddie’s old place, Charlie finds himself with a new roommate, Eddie’s ghost.
Hecox and Padilla have both performed their schtick now
for a long time and are excellent with it.
Ghostmates is the second cinematic attempt from Smosh. The first, Smosh: The Movie, was a journey into maddening mediocrity. The film was a dizzying mess of skits that were sometimes hilarious but mostly not. However, it was the first attempt from a comedy duo used to making short format entertainment. Smosh: The Movie was also watchable if you’re into the comedy stylings of Hecox and Padilla.
So, where does that leave Ghostmates? For starters, it’s a definite jump in quality in almost every aspect. The writing is sharper, with the flow of the film more cohesive than their previous effort. Writer Ryan Finnerty has worked with Smosh for more than a decade and brings a much clearer approach to Ghostmates. However, Ghostmates still has this strange sense of being underwritten with the characters saying just enough to move things along.
The tried-and-true formula of a ghost requiring closure to reach heaven works here just fine. But the pair of Hecox and Padilla, who have come up with a plethora of smart material, don’t do that here. Ghostmates is played very straight, which helps make this movie a little more appealing to the non-Smosh crowd. But it’s playing it safe that kind of bogs down Ghostmates too.
Ghostmates is a better movie than Smosh: The Movie, but oddly still less noteworthy. Ghostmates never reaches brilliant comedic heights, but it also never hits any real lows. The film rides down the middle lane, staying within the lines and cruising ahead. Smosh: The Movie is more like having a drunk at the wheel. Both films work, but you’ll likely end up talking more about the ride with the drunk.
Hecox and Padilla have both performed their schtick now for a long time and are excellent with it. Director Jack Henry Robbins doesn’t break any new ground here although the moment Eddie returns as a ghost is slick. It’s a neat visual that lasts about three seconds in a 90-minute movie.
Ghostmates is a better movie than Smosh: The Movie,
but oddly still less noteworthy.
If you’re already a member of YouTube Red, then Ghostmates is worth a watch, particularly if you already like Hecox, Padilla, and Smosh. However, if you’re not on YouTube Red, then don’t work too hard tracking this movie down. Ghostmates mostly plods along, but it’s a notable step up in quality for a Smosh flick. If they keep improving with each film as they have, then there’s comedy gold coming soon.