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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dan Webster: Please Don’t Destroy comedy trio gets their own feature film and it’s a farcical romp

By Dan Webster For The Spokesman-Review

If you’re a fan of “Saturday Night Live,” then you’re likely familiar with the trio of comic performers known collectively as Please Don’t Destroy.

What you might not know, though, is that they teamed up in 2017 while attending New York University. And that they are, in order, Martin Herlihy (the one wearing glasses), John Higgins (the short one) and Ben Marshall (the redhead).

Hired as team in 2021 to write for “SNL,” and often the best part of each week’s show, the three are now starring in their first feature-length film titled “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain.” The film, which was written by the trio and directed by Paul Briganti, is streaming on Peacock.

The plot they came up with is simple: The three work at Trout Plus, a Cabela’s-type store that sells outdoors merchandise. John (all three characters use the actors’ own real names) is happy living with his two pals, drinking beer and (foreshadowing) wingsuiting in the company’s wind tunnel.

Martin and Ben, though, have other interests. Martin is growing ever closer to his girlfriend Amy (Nichole Sakura), and Ben has fantasies of taking over Trout Plus, which is owned by his father (Conan O’Brien). The prospect of losing his friends depresses John.

Everything changes, though, when they discover that a compass they had found years before in a local creek could be the key to a long-lost treasure – a golden bust of Marie Antoinette, said to be worth $100 million.

Thus begins the adventure that takes the boys to Foggy Mountain State Park, where they encounter a couple of park rangers, Lisa (Megan Stalter) and Taylor (X Mayo). Lisa has a thing for John, but when she and Taylor discover what the trio is up to, they scheme to find the treasure first.

What follows is a farcical romp in which the boys are waylaid by the rangers, escape and use the compass to locate the treasure, engage in a near-disastrous wingsuit flight (remember, foreshadowing?) and fend off wild animals – including one particularly bellicose hawk – before finally finding the bust.

But that’s only the beginning of their quest, because they then run into a band of cultists led by a guy (played by “SNL” cast member Bowen Yang) who had spent a dozen years searching in vain for the treasure and … wait, let’s not give everything away.

The humor of “Please Don’t Destroy” depends a lot on two things: timing and the interplay between the three that almost always takes an unexpected turn. The jokes, many of which are off-color, come fast and force you to keep up, while the boys themselves are a mostly charming mix of innocence and misplaced arrogance.

And while much of “The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” doesn’t quite rank with the best of their “SNL” material, it is an indication that the guys of Please Don’t Destroy might actually have a big-screen future.

They just need to find a better destination than Foggy Mountain.

An earlier version of this story misstated the network hosting “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain.” Peacock is where to stream the comedy.