Twice in its running time, All The Best directly invokes Hrishida's immaculate comedies Golmal and Chupke Chupke, among many other sundry references to Bollywood. This immediate and naked invocation probably meant to depict affiliation, but it only serves to distance us from the goings on in Rohit Shetty's newest offering.
Hrishida approached humour with an intellectual perspective - to paraphrase Christopher Morley, Hrishida had an immaculate awareness that some things are important, others not so much; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs. The fact that his insight into middle class aspirations was razor sharp added to the charm and relate-ability of his films.
Humour is subjective, though - laughter is laughter, no matter how you evoke it. The bigger difference was that the man who became our foremost chronicler of middle class Wodehouse-ian farce, approached his craft with an almost reverential seriousness, lavishing incredible detail yet chastely austere in his storytelling. Rohit Shetty, simply put, is not half as good.
Don't blame us for the comparison - he started it. The fact that he can start something and not end it is evident rampantly in All The Best. The film begins with subplots about Ajay Devgn's (that's not a typo, he has dropped a crucial vowel - be prepared for JY DVGN if this works) car obsession, and his wife (Bipasha Basu, vowels and hotness both still intact, I am happy to report) and her daily travails with a dysfunctional gym - which are all waylaid for the main story and never explored again.
As the Right Husband, Wrong Bed inspired main plot unravels, it falls on Fardeen Khan to act entitled, spoilt, naive, and willingly deceptive at the same time. Shetty directs this by asking his lead to faint or look constipated - which Khan fails at, might I add. With a wholly contrived and not to mention utterly racist denouement, All The Best may try and compare itself to the classics, but it doesn't have the ends to sustain a wholly meaty middle.
It is this middle, however, that is enlivened once Sanjay Dutt (playing the elder brother of Fardeen Khan, who must be deceived to ensure Khan's allowance keeps coming) finds his footing. The spark that ignited films like Haseena Maan Jaayegi and the Munnabhai films, Dutt brings with him his unique blend of comic timing and relatable comic frustration that works like magic.
Every comedic sequence that he inhabits is funnier as a result, and every single one he is not in (including a tired being-chased-by-a-dog gag) is utterly bland by comparison. Then there's Sanjay Mishra, our beloved Apple Singh, asked this time to do what he pleases, and he delivers a farcical and oddball character that comic legends are made of. If it were not blasphemy, I would have invoked comparison with "something completely different". It's sad that this is wasted in a film whose director is more interested in proving that he can direct action and blockbuster song sequences as well - peppering his film with those just to show off.
There's something to be said about his homegrown aesthetic, though - every shot is hand-made, every sequence crafted with the raw assurance of a team delivering their all on the sets. None more so than Farhan-Sajid and Bunty Rathod; they have written crisp dialogues for the most part of the film, funny and pithy enough in equal measure. Pity that the third-rate adapted screenplay by Robin Bhatt and Yunus Sajawal isn't even competent enough to contain those lines.
Stealing another great man's line, humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility. Rohit Shetty approaches his craft as physical chaos being lived through heightened emotions - annulling the good work Dutt and Mishra have put in. It's funny, sure, but it could have been memorable. Rather, it will have to contend with being a forgettable timepass.
If it is a few laughs you're looking for, by all means go watch. There are also some very neat shots in Ramoji Film City, for those interested in that sort of thing. At the end of the day, this simply isn't even as good as Shetty's earlier Golmaal Returns, which was both tonally consistent and less broad in its writing. Go for the quick laughs only if you can stand the unfunny beginning and end.