I have lots of current films to talk about (about 20 films, give or take), but I had to get this off my chest first. I’m ashamed for having seen this movie, so I hope this is a lesson for you.
I thought this might a sufficiently fluffy film to pass the time because it was a Dreamworks movie. However, I didn’t know that it was produced by the people who made Road Trip and Old School (they market-researched the name so that people would make the connection, apparently) – it’s as if they thought, ‘We’ve made a rubbish comedy for the college crowd and a rubbish comedy for the post-college crowd; we need a rubbish comedy for the pre-college crowd – we don’t want to discriminate.’
The film is about Scotty, who is dumped by his girlfriend (Kristin Kreuk, who is playing around with the lead singer of a band: a hysterical cameo from Matt Damon, taking a day off from filming The Brothers Grimm, which was filming in the same city, Prague) – this leads to the one decent joke of the film, which is the song by the band, ‘Scotty doesn’t know’, all about them and how stupid Scotty is. Scotty decides to go to Berlin to visit his German pen pal who, in all the time they have been communicating, has neglected to reveal that she is a girl – how unbelievably stupid is that for the basis for a film? I don’t know much about the pen pal system, but I would have thought there was a selection process. And wouldn’t she have wanted to practise her English, rather than using German all the time? This is not a good start to a film.
Scotty goes with his best friend (stupid and horny) and they end up in London, where they talk about there being ‘no drinking age’ – is this stupid, ignorant or deliberately ironic? So, being in a pub (with the name spelled wrong), there are ‘soccer hooligans’ – Vinnie Jones embarrassing himself as the head of the Manchester United Fan Club. Surprisingly, seeing as the majority of Man Utd fans are not from Manchester, this is the most believable part of the film, despite none of them actually wearing an official Man Utd t-shirt (just plain red t-shirts) or scarf or any proper merchandise. Having ‘amusingly’ ingratiated themselves into their affections, the next thing our two Americans know is waking up in a bus in France – what about passport control, you say? Did they take a double decker on Eurostar or the ferry? Apparently, this is not important …
In France, they meet up with their friends, the twins: the dull nerd and the sexy girl (played by Michelle Trachtenberg, aka Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; here, she is trying to shrug off the good girl image by doing a sex comedy without showing her breasts but at the same time being an object of sexualisation, such as bending over as the camera lingers on her bottom, or a close-up of her chest in a sexy top, or in a bikini with the camera in slow-motion). They try to get into the Louvre, but the queue is hilariously long and they end up having a fight with a robot mime.
After this, they decide to go around Europe before going to Berlin. They end up on a train with a middle-aged gay Italian men who fondles the boys – why are gay men automatically seen as pervy near-paedos? – which is allegedly hilarious. They go to Amsterdam: the stupid horny bloke ends up in a sex dungeon where he is anally probed by Lucy Lawless; the dull nerd gets a blow job in a backstreet where he mugged at the same time; Scotty and Michelle Trachtenberg eat hash brownies with no hash. This is, again, allegedly hilarious.
With no money, they hitch but, without being able to speak German very well (despite the pen pal), they end up in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, which is incorrectly depicted as a poverty-stricken dump (why couldn’t they pick a correct location?). The alleged hilarity here comes because their dollar and eighty cents is worth millions of the local currency, so they are treated like lords and ladies. Aren’t poor countries amusing? Even though they are seemingly in a war zone, they still end up in a ‘super nightclub’ in the same town – Michelle Trachtenberg is chatted up by a bloke who schmoozed her in Paris station, because everyone knows the dream of every 18-year-old girl is the attention of a sleazy older man. It turns out the sleazy old man owns the club – because rich people own clubs in war zones – and he wants to have sex with her because he is a bisexual adulterer, like all French men are, n’est-ce pas?
After this, they get a lift back to Berlin (apparently passing the Black Forest, even though they are nowhere near it) only to find that Scotty’s pen pal has gone to Rome and she will leave there soon after. In discovering this, we have the most tasteless joke – the little brother of the pen pal paints a little black moustache on his upper lip and goose steps in the background: Hitler jokes that aren’t jokes are so funny, even now …
So, even though they don’t have passports, they are still able to get on a plane to Rome and arrive in an hour, thus adding completely impossible trips to the litany of errors. In Rome, despite the Vatican being one of the most heavily guarded locations in the world, they are able to get into the Pope’s apartments, burn priceless objects and furniture, and get themselves recognised as the new Pope – all allegedly hilarious. Scotty gets to shag his German pen pal in a confessional booth, which is very romantic for your first time, and seems to lasts surprisingly long time for a permanently horny virgin moron. To complete the happy endings, the dull nerd becomes a writer for a tourist guide, and stupid horny best friend and Michelle Trachtenberg have sex in the plane toilet on the way home. Hurrah.
This is bad. Embarrassingly bad. I couldn’t decide if it is a work of subversive genius masquerading as a rubbish sex comedy, or a deliberate send-up of American stereotypes of foreign people, or if it’s just bad in a very ordinary sense. The three guys responsible for this have done stuff for Curb Your Enthusiasm; they wrote and co-directed this (they chose one name out of a hat for the DGA rules) and their lack of experience shows.
The movie was filmed entirely in Prague – the CGI of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower is laughable – which defeats the purpose of it being a trip around Europe if they can’t be bothered to actually go the locations in Europe themselves. It is also a sex comedy that is neither sexy nor funny; the showing of breasts is done particularly absurdly. At the start of the film, stupid horny bloke jumps into a hot tub with a girl in a bikini; she covers her breasts from his letching but he persuades her stay in the tub, and then he says she has a mark on her chest that she needs to rub off – somehow, he gets her to take off the top that was protecting her nakedness she shyly protected initially in order to get the imaginary mark. I understand that stupid people are necessary in comedy, but not after a display of some intelligence. It’s just a juvenile man’s dream of what they wanted to happen when they were growing up, and is rather sad.
The worst aspect is the lack of research and the attempt to make it authentic – the lists of errors on Wikipedia and IMDb are really funny – which shows an insulting attitude on behalf of the filmmakers. I just wonder what would be said if we non-Americans made an offensive film about US stereotypes (hmm, how was Borat received?). I’m deeply saddened and depressed having watched this.