Vague Visages’ The Treasure of Foggy Mountain review contains minor spoilers. Paul Briganti’s 2023 Peacock movie features Martin Herlihy, John Higgins and Ben Marshall. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.
Mountains. Compasses. Friends. Peacock’s The Treasure of Foggy Mountain is a dream on paper for adventure film enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the Saturday Night Live-adjacent production — directed by Paul Briganti — falls into the same traps that plagued the NBC series pre-COVID-19. Now, with a new cast of innovators, the sketch comedy show prioritizes original situational comedy over detached/sexualized millennial humor and forced political commentaries. Written by SNL’s Please Don’t Destroy crew (NYU alums Martin Herlihy, John Higgins and Ben Marshall), The Treasure of Foggy Mountain loses momentum quickly as the male protagonists get upstaged by almost each and every female actress.
Told in four parts, The Treasure of Foggy Mountain follows three North Carolina-based roommates who search for harmony in their lives by chasing after a gold treasure — specifically, a bust of the legendary Marie Antoinette (a former Queen of France). The 92-minute comedy stars the aforementioned Herlihy (the son of SNL veteran Tim Herlihy), Higgins and Marshall, all of whom take a Superbad-style approach with their “Well, you look like (INSERT INSULT HERE)” zingers and steady pop culture references. The Treasure of Foggy Mountain lacks comedic cohesiveness during the first act, at least until the male leads venture off into the woods and meet park rangers Lisa (Meg Stalter) and Taylor (X Mayo). As the protagonists (all using their real first names) overcome obstacles — including a sassy hawk — they discover that a missing adventurer (SNL’s Bowen Yang as Deetch Norwind) has formed a purple-colored cult in the great outdoors, resulting in a clash of ideals.
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Like so many young SNL writers of the past 10 years, the Please Don’t Destroy lads favor dry comedy and thin surrealism over the stakes in The Treasure of Foggy Mountain. The personal jabs and self-deprecating humor will no doubt appeal to Judd Apatow followers, and yet there isn’t a clear star who emerges, like Sarah Sherman over the past two years on SNL. Due to the lack of star power, it doesn’t take much for Salter and Mayo to essentially steal the film away from the male performers, aside from Conan O’Brien as Ben’s father (Farley) and Yang as the supremely confused cult leader. Furthermore, the Please Don’t Destroy boys do little with SNL cast member Chloe Troast as Poppy and Sunita Mani (GLOW) as Tricia, though actress Nichole Sakura receives decent material as Martin’s Christian girlfrend, Amy.
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The Treasure of Foggy Mountain does indeed improve with each act, thanks to situational comedy payoffs (wing suits, cult clash) and Martin’s transformation into a tough character known as “Lawrence’ — a mix between Rodney Dangerfield and Andrew Dice Clay. Aesthetically, though, Briganti doesn’t incorporate much visual style. Plus, the costume design won’t win any awards, unless the judge is SNL alum Pete Davidson (a man known for his baggy, fluorescent clothing). All in all, The Treasure of Foggy Mountain doesn’t match the quality of mid-level Adam Sandler comedies, but it just may work as a double-billing with Akiva Schaffer’s 2007 film Hot Rod starring Andy Samberg, especially given the impressive list of needle-drops (arguably the bright spot beyond Salter’s supporting performance).
The Treasure of Foggy Mountain released on November 17, 2023 via Peacock.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.
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