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Wingers

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Sometimes it's shocking to realize that people still do stand-up. Thinking of men and women doing bits about current events and routines about the differences between men and women, just like comedians did in the '80s, is almost like thinking of people talking to each other in their cars on CB radios. Well, it's at least like thinking of someone going to the gym with a CD player strapped to their waist, one of the funnier jokes told in "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show."

A concert movie of a stand-up comedy tour seems even more anachronistic in 2008, though this one neither bombs as badly as you might think nor goes over as well as it might have 20 years ago. Vaughn says he named the tour, featuring himself along with several up-and-coming comedians, after Buffalo Bill Cody's "Wild West" show, and it is steeped in nostalgia. Special guests include Jon Favreau, who teamed up with Vaughn in "Swingers," along with other former co-stars, including somewhat odd choices like Peter Billingsley, more commonly known as the kid from "A Christmas Story." Old friends, Vaughn and Billingsley have a mild chuckle over their stint on an "After School Special" about steroids.

Mild is the theme here, with nothing particularly exciting or distasteful -- the threat that it might have devolved into an ego-fueled ham-fest never materializes — about the proceedings. The best part is the minor comedians — not their routines, though they vary from decent to good, but themselves. Though he's a big star now, Vaughn knows what it means to come up the long and winding way, and he wisely lets his cohorts in "Wild West" recount their backgrounds and anecdotes on making it in comedy.

These entertainers admit they've chosen a rocky field to plant their hopes, so it's interesting to learn about the industry from their point of view. One of them, the one with the CD player routine, is due back at his waiter job at the tour's close — after raising the roof at venues as famous as Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, no less. That's at least interesting to think about, even if it's probably not at the heart of the movie's intentions. Watching people doing stand-up may not be the hippest pastime anymore, but the best of "West" reminds us of the real people who still do it. (R) 90 min. S



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