Eurotrip

star

A movie review by James Berardinelli



Eurotrip

COMEDY:

United States, 2004

U.S. Release Date:

2004-02-20

Running Length:

1:32

MPAA Classification:

R (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity, Drugs)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

1.85:1

Cast:

Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Jessica Boehrs

Director:

Jeff Schaffer

Screenplay:

Alec Berg & David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer

Cinematography:

David Eggby

Music:

James L. Venable

U.S. Distributor:

Dreamworks

Subtitles:

none


It boggles the mind to consider that the fertile writing team of Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer, all of whom spent time scripting episodes of "Seinfeld," could turn out something as abysmally unfunny as Eurotrip. Then again, these guys were also responsible for The Cat in the Hat, so perhaps it's not all that surprising. At any rate, in the genre of teen sex films, Eurotrip doesn't set a new standard for lack of quality, but it comes close. The problem isn't that it spends 90 minutes marinating in lewdness and bad taste - those things are mandatory for this kind of movie - but that so many of the desperate jabs at humor fail to find their mark. Sex comedies need two obvious ingredients: sex and comedy. Eurotrip has some of the former (plenty of bare breasts and buns) but almost none of the latter.

The strange thing about watching this movie is that you can see the things that are supposed to be funny, and they aren't. Every joke is carefully telegraphed, but the punch lines are strangely punchless. There are two solid laughs (one occurs at the expense of David Hasselhoff and the other is during the end credit outtakes) and a couple of mild chuckles. The film also doesn't understand the concept of overplaying a joke. Instead of moving along to the next bit of would-be humor, Eurotrip lingers on gags that aren't especially funny to begin with until they become tiresome. (The "robot battle" is a prime example.)

The premise got me thinking, which is a bad sign for a movie where thought is one of the least desirable activities for a human being to engage in. Eurotrip opens by introducing us to the protagonist, Scott Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz, who appears to have learned acting by studying Hayden Christensen's interpretation of Anakin Skywalker), a high school senior who has been corresponding for some time with his electronic pen pal, a German named Mieke (Jessica Boehrs). Somehow, however, despite having engaged in numerous, lengthy e-mail discussions and even possessing a picture of Mieke, Scott doesn't realize he's a she. Sorry to say, but even in a genre where believability is frequently stretched way beyond the breaking point in the service of humor, this is extreme. So, from the beginning, rather than identifying with Scott, we view him with disdain. How could anyone be so stupid???

Eventually, Scott ends up traveling all over Europe chasing his beautiful, blond would-be soulmate. (Actually, what he's after isn't that ethereal - one would think he could get it elsewhere with a lot less hassle.) Accompanying him is Cooper (Jacob Pitts), a guy who looks (and acts) astonishingly like a young David Spade. In Paris, the hormone-driven pair meets up with a couple of friends, tomboy Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg, Harriet the Spy all grown up) and her twin brother, anal Jamie (Travis Wester). Now a quartet, they head for Rome, with stops along the way in Amsterdam (for hash-brownies and wild sex), Bratislava (for Eastern European hospitality), and Berlin. Along the way, we get cameos from the likes of Matt Damon, Vinnie Jones, and Lucy Lawless.

For a movie with so many off-color elements, including (but not limited to) a creepy homosexual predator, a scary-looking anal probe, dozens of ugly men doing the full Monty, sex in a confessional, a child lampooning Hitler, and Pope bashing (good thing the Catholic Church is too busy gearing up for the release of The Passion of the Christ to have time to complain), Eurotrip comes across as surprisingly tame. It doesn't have the outrageous verve displayed by the likes of American Pie and Road Trip. The lead character's progressive stupidity makes him infinitely less likable. Eurotrip is stale and showing signs of putrefaction - an unwholesome cross between National Lampoon's European Vacation and Freddy Got Fingered (without Tom Green and animal masturbation). Now if that isn't enough of a reason to keep away from theaters playing this piece of cinematic sludge, I don't know what is.





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