At few Hollywood screenings do stars from the film challenge audience members to drinking contests or producers perform rock concerts. But on October 1 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, the comedy troupe Broken Lizard and Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz did just that, providing a unique experience for their disparate fan bases gathered together under the stars.
Before the movie, Broken Lizard’s Steve Lemme and Jay Chandrasekhar of Super Troopers and Beerfest fame recreated a scene from the latter, staging an anchorman contest complete with USA team jackets from the film. They then introduced Freeloaders, produced by Broken Lizard Industries and Adam Duritz. Duritz and members of the comedy group join a cast that includes Olivia Munn, Jane Seymour, and in a brilliant stroke of casting, Dave Foley playing a broken, out-of-work (autobiographical?) version of himself.
Duritz’s role in the film is more than mere cameo. The plot revolves around his fictionalized Beverly Hills mansion where a group of freeloading losers crash while he’s on the road. When Duritz gets engaged and decides to sell the house, the group has to find a new place to live. While diabolical real estate agent Carolyn Roberts (played by Seymour) attempts to kick the bunch out, they devise schemes to stay or, at the very least, mooch off Duritz before they’re evicted.
Though not to the level of a classic Broken Lizard movie and without the troupe’s inspired absurdity, the comedy gets more than enough cheap laughs off sex pirates, canine AIDS, and some “hey, isn’t that” cameos from Richard Branson, Denise Richards, and CSI’s Wallace Langham.
After the movie, surprisingly few audience members left before Counting Crows took the stage. Sound problems plagued the beginning of the set – the audience could almost hear the cheers from the Carrie Underwood concert at the nearby Hollywood Bowl over the band – but midway through the second song, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby,” Duritz’s mic kicked-in and the crowd responded enthusiastically. Duritz, sporting a Beatles t-shirt and his trademark dreads, was typically soulful and emotive on stage, alternating between tears and animated jump kicks. During “Goodnight Elisabeth,” he leaned off the stage to shake hands and take pictures with fans.
Duritz stayed mainly with songs from 1996’s Recovering the Satellites, which he told the audience was recorded in LA during a time when he was “well-lubricated.” Playing the Ford Amphitheatre held special meaning for Duritz since the video for the lead single from Satellites’ “Angels of the Silences” was filmed at the venue. Duritz didn’t shy away from talking about his past personal struggles, admitting wryly between songs, “I didn’t handle fame well.”
Counting Crows ended the set with “A Long December” and an impromptu sing-along to a recording of The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’” conducted by Duritz. It was an odd closer but on a night that had songs about angels sharing time with stories about smoking out Willie Nelson, it only seemed fitting.