Genuinely funny teen sex romps are hard to come by because movie producers know their target audience has low standards. As long as the movie hits a few choice gross-out jokes, provides a handful of topless girls, and keeps costs down (usually by casting unknowns), a profit is virtually guaranteed from whatever allowance money college freshmen don't spend on beer.
So when a movie as ribald and riotous as "Eurotrip" comes along, you know it's a fluke -- and that it's probably too good to last. Does this comedy's paper-thin plot eventually collapse under the cumulative weight of its contrivances and coincidences? Yes. But until its inevitable (and exponential) downward slide in the last half-hour, the nude-beach, Absinthe and hash-brownie escapades of four pals, fresh out of high school and loose on the Continent, had me laughing out loud.
The set-up is, of course, simplistic: On graduation day, cute, irresolute nice-guy Scotty (newcomer Scott Mechlowicz) is dumped by his long-term girlfriend ("Smallville's" Kristin Kreuk) and decides to join his friends on a trip overseas, where he hopes to track down, and hook up with, a gorgeous internet pen-pal from Germany.
Standard stuff to be sure, but the humor is in the details, as when Scotty goes to a grad night party and is startled to find his ex making out on stage with the uber-pierced lead singer of a punk band (Matt Damon in an is-that-who-I-think-it-is? cameo) while the guy sings a hysterically raunchy, surprisingly catchy song about their sex life entitled "Scotty Doesn't Know." Over the course of the movie, the tune haunts and taunts Scotty as it becomes a huge hit all over Europe.
Scotty and his traveling companions seem a generic bunch at first, but charismatic comical personality traits soon emerge from curvy former tomboy Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), her anal-retentive twin brother Jamie (Travis Wester) and especially from gutter-minded wise-acre Cooper -- played by the incisively droll Jacob Pitts, who is like a teenage David Spade, only far less grating. These are not the annoyingly wacky one-note imbeciles of "American Pie."
But if it weren't for these young actors having naturally sharp comedic timing to go along with their ridiculous misadventures -- falling in with a band of roving soccer hooligans, being chased by horny, zombie-like nudists, discovering what it means to chase the green fairy ("Ohhh, I'll never drink again!"), and learning the hard way about Amsterdam bondage clubs -- "Eurotrip" could have crashed and burned on take-off because the cleverness of its tastelessness is wildly inconsistent.
The movie's first cheap excuse for getting a girl topless is predictably weak but inexplicably witty, yet all the nude scenes that follow are so dumb they seriously stretch the comic credibility of director Jeff Schaffer and his co-writers Alec Berg and David Mandel (who owe infinite penance for their last project, "The Cat in the Hat"). A risky Adolf Hitler sight gag gets one of the movie's biggest laughs, but the picture's havoc-wreaking finale at the Vatican is not only ludicrous and lame, it goes well out of its way to be vulgar and impertinent (and I'm not even religious enough to have any energy tied up on such things).
The longer the movie goes on, the more pointlessly nonsensical, fluke-driven and random it becomes -- and that's frustrating because "Eurotrip" is littered with moments of hilarious creativity. If the filmmakers had just aimed a little higher and tried a little harder, this movie could have been a tour de force of tawdry comedy. But even though it tanks in the last act, I was still in stitches for the better part of 92 minutes.
Why "Eurotrip" (the attention-grabbing original title, "The Ugly Americans," was apparently deemed too politically accurate) cracked me up when, say, the more crass, less astute "Old School" and the "American Pie" flicks failed may just be a matter of taste. Truth be told, I've talked to critics who hated this movie. But its frivolous flavor, vivacious performances and moments of cheeky imagination (a shrill David Hasselhoff power-ballad video is incorporated into one deliberately cheesy fantasy sequence) show that at least the folks behind the camera cared about more than just selling callow, shallow frat boys tickets to another insipid sex farce.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th February 2004
Box Office Worldwide: $20.8M
Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG, Montecito Picture Company, The
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Scott Mechlowicz as Scott Thomas, Jacob Pitts as Cooper Harris, Kristin Kreuk as Fiona, Cathy Meils as Mrs. Thomas, Nial Iskhakov as Bert, Michelle Trachtenberg as Jenny, Travis Wester as Jamie, Matt Damon as Donny, Vinnie Jones as Mad Maynard, Diedrich Bader as Mugger, Lucy Lawless as Madame Vandersexxx, Molly Schade as Candy, Jessica Boehrs as Mieke, Jana Pallaske as Anna
Also starring: Joanna Lumley
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