Spring Breakdown Movie Review

There have been a slew of successful comedies over the past few years, both in film and television. The key to their success lies not simply in the escalating level of raunch or the burgeoning group of well-known comic actors who join the pack. For these comedies, success lies in the very specific, clear-eyed attitudes brought to the material by the various creative minds behind the humor -- be it the geek love of Judd Apatow, the savage wit of Tina Fey, the inspired idiocy of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, or the genre-bending genius of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. With that in mind, we come to Spring Breakdown, which lacks any sort of creative, iconoclastic attitude toward the material other than the one-note goofiness of a standard Saturday Night Live sketch. In 10-minute blocks, the formula sometimes works. In an 84-minute feature film, it is a complete dead zone.

The film essentially exists to take fabulously talented female comedic presences like Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, and Rachel Dratch and make them mug for the camera while acting like tired Geeky Spinster caricatures. These actresses have made caricatures work before -- Dratch did it regularly on SNL, Posey brilliantly skewered archetype after archetype in Christopher Guest's wonderful mockumentaries, and Poehler is currently the world's foremost female comedic performer, capable of turning any tired formula into comic gold simply by her very presence. If there is one sad message sent by Spring Breakdown, it is that even Amy Poehler can't always rise above the material.

Poehler, Posey, and Dratch play lifelong best friends and eternal social train wrecks who like to sing outdated pop songs. Ha ha. They wear awful clothes and get together for "make-your-own-pizza nights." Hee hee. Of course the entire world hates them, and the movie exists so that they can show said world just how valuable they are. Girl power!

In a film more interested in laughing at square-peg thirty-something women than in making a comedy that works, the film's plot is one of the laziest, most uninteresting story lines in the history of the cinema. That might be forgivable if the movie were miraculously hysterical, but alas, the only miracle involved in Spring Breakdown is when it finally ends, although even then I wasn't very happy. Posey plays a lowly assistant to a bloviating Southern-belle Senator, played by the usually-great Jane Lynch as an unsure mixture of redneck Texas conservatism and liberal-friendly eco-consciousness. It's very weird, and even more unfunny. For reasons too stupid and unnecessary to discuss, Lynch is being considered to take over the vice presidency just as her awkward daughter (Amber Tamblyn) is heading off to party at Spring Break. In an attempt to avoid any possible family controversy, the Senator sends Posey to follow the daughter on Spring Break and keep her out of trouble. Poehler and Dratch come along since Poehler can't even get a blind guy (Will Arnett, in an unfortunate cameo) to be attracted to her, and Dratch is engaged to a flaming homosexual (Seth Meyers, in one of the worst performances ever).

The shapeless disaster of a plot careens from one ludicrous tangent to another, and not in a brilliant Charlie Kaufman sort of way -- more like Apatow with A.D.D. Poehler is scooped up and transformed by the In Crowd and becomes a drunken party maven. Dratch mistakenly believes she had a one-night stand with a hunky college student, and walks around with renewed vigor. Posey does...well, nothing much, other than act like a geeky wallflower amidst neutered depictions of Spring Break debauchery. She is utterly wasted in a film that has no clue what or how anything is funny. Poehler and Dratch sneak in a couple of chuckle-worthy one-liners, but essentially stumble through the film with nary an effort. Lynch and Tamblyn are relegated to bland window dressing. Missi Pyle, as a lifelong Spring Break cougar-on-the-prowl, steals nearly all of her scenes and is the only person on screen who seems to be having any fun.

And the Oscar for costume design goes to...

Cast & Crew

Director : Ryan Shiraki

Producer : Rick Berg, Larry Kennar, Ryan Shiraki

Comments

Spring Breakdown Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2009

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