Back in the late 90s, the raunchy R-rated comedy was thriving, thanks in large part to movies like American Pie. The trend continued in the aftermath of The Hangover, one of the most successful comedies ever made at the box office. In another time, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain would be the type of crowd-pleaser flooded with quotable dialogue that people would be talking about for weeks. Alas, with streaming reigning supreme, the quirkiness of this surprisingly hilarious breakout film arrives to Peacock instead. One can only hope this Apatow production doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, but it seems like it would be right at home next to Superbad, or recent titles Bottoms and Supercool. Utterly hilarious from top to bottom, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain unearths comedy gold off the backs of its dysfunctional leads, and one seriously cheeky hawk.
Narrated by John Goodman—who at one point literally acknowledges that he’s from The Big Lebowski and “a bunch of other shit”—Please Don’t Destroy begins with a tease of its central thread. A map to Foggy Mountain’s treasure is left in the form of a key, beckoning the finders to solve its puzzle and recover the artifact. The treasure in question: a priceless golden bust of Marie Antoinette, hidden away in the mountains. Too bad the three young children who find the compass map do nothing with it for many years…
In present day, the trio of besties are now roommates, all of whom work at hunting/camping store Trout Plus. Ben (Ben Marshall) struggles to escape the shadow of his father, Farley (Conan O’Brien), also the owner of Trout Plus; nerdy Martin (Martin Herlihy) tries to impress his girlfriend (Nichole Sakura) by being baptized, and stifling his alter-ego, Lawrence; and John (John Higgins) is stuck in a rut, latching onto their fading friendship and feeling as if the other two are moving on without him. The film’s script, also written by this acting trio, plays on their chemistry to astonishing effect. The bond between them is believable and best of all, each gets a major role to play in the overarching story.
That initial spark for their trip to Foggy Mountain in the first place as children makes for one of the fieriest—and funniest—sequences. An out-of-control talent show that results in John’s penis popping out onstage and accidentally being lit on fire actually brings him two new friends. They invited John along on their trip to Foggy Mountain, and the rest was history. A random video talking about the region’s undiscovered treasure reignites those nostalgic memories for John. He pieces together that the compass could lead them to an exciting path forward in their rudimentary lives. If no one has found the treasure by now, the Marie Antoinette bust is prime for the taking.
While I am unsure as to how much of its comedic stylings feature improv, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain feels impressively organic in its laughs, constantly building upon what came before. Nearly every major noteworthy mention or moment has an equally satisfying follow-through. Being split into four separate parts doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense, but that angle seems to be an afterthought anyway. Weirdly specific pop culture mentions—a Soulja Boy dance, a safe door being referred to as Spongebob’s house door, and “all lives matter”—only add to the atmosphere. At a certain point, it feels like anything goes in this wacky world.
The addition of two security guards (Megan Stalter, X Mayo) adds another element to the comedy. John falls in love with one of them, while various parties circle the treasure with differing motives. Some wish to destroy it, yet others want to profit off its $100-million+ price tag. By the time they stumble across a strange cult in the woods chanting “all lives matter,” Please Don’t Destroy evolves into a clever social commentary. One of the best celebrity cameos in recent memory comes by way of a notable Broadway and Netflix star; the appearance remains so brief and random that it’s unforgettable.
For fans of SNL-related movies such as Wayne’s World, Superstar, or Coneheads, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain brings zany humor to the forefront. It never forgets to focus on the characters and their plights. Yes, this may be yet another film doubling down on the power of friendship, but that message perseveres for a reason. Whip out the tasers and prepare to go on a debaucherous journey of ridiculousness, in the name of the American dollar.
Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain implores viewers to value the power of friendship when it debuts exclusively to Peacock on Friday, November 17th.