Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 36 min.
Our content ratings: V 5; L 8; Sex 7/N 6. Our star rating (1-5): 1
These also reel with wine
and stagger with strong drink;
the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
they are confused with wine,
they stagger with strong drink;
they err in vision,
they stumble in giving judgment.
All tables are covered with filthy vomit;
no place is clean.
Director Nicholas Stroller’s film is another one to add to my “Waste of Time” list of movies—and to think that I thought that Riding Along was about the worst movie of the year. I sat in agony through this so-called comedy hoping it would get better because two of the Metacritics had rated this at 100, and the next 7 critics had rated it from 80 to 91. (When in doubt about a film I go to Metacritics to get an idea of whether or not to spend my too-precious-to-waste-time on a film I know little about.)
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), a suburban couple with six-month-old daughter Stella, are not pleased when Delta Psi, a college fraternity, moves in next door. Still, they try to make friends with the president Teddy (Zac Efron), his best friend Pete (Dave Franco), and the frat brothers, all of them fawning over little Stella. Mac’s idea of the usual welcoming cake or plate of cookies is to offer the guys weed (presumably to show how cool he and Kelly are). Teddy promises to honor Kelly’s carefully rehearsed, but fervently delivered, “Keep it down.” Mac tells Teddy he will honor his request to call him and not the police should they get too noisy. But when one noise-filled night Teddy does not answer his phone, Mac does call the police. When a cop comes, he puts the onus on Mac rather than the noise makers themselves—funny but very unbelievable, which is the problem with most of the humorous situations in this turkey.
Good comedy must exist in a believable world to be effective—and one early scene is indeed good comedy. It is the one in which the wife of their best friend calls them to join her (she has left her husband) at a nightspot, and not to worry about getting a babysitter for Stella so late at night, just bring her along. The couple rush about, packing food and diapers; getting out her collapsible stroller; rolling out the wheeled gizmo with all sorts of attachments to keep an active baby occupied—until it looks like they will need a truck to transport everything, and they are now so tired that they collapse, too exhausted to go out. Now that was funny. I was reminded of the first visit of our son and daughter-in-law with their infant daughter when they had to make at least three trips to the car to bring in their luggage and what seemed to us to be room full of gizmos deemed necessary to keep little Bella happy, including a rocking swing set bedecked with little hanging toys. Recalling our own early days of traveling with our five little ones to visit our folks, we realized how Spartan those days were in regard to baby paraphernalia.
However, the idea of the cop savaging the couple for complaining; the fact that no one else in the neighborhood ever complains (or barely is seen); the onslaught of several hundred youth rushing to the fraternity’s orgiastic party with no one else in the neighborhood noticing—join this (and more) with so many sex scenes and bare-breasted females; acceptance of drug and alcohol use with no consequences, well, let’s say that this probably is not a film for a religious group to watch and discuss the morality and mores of the postmodern age. How this escaped an NC-17 rating probably reveals that there is a lot to be desired in the awarding of ratings. The film offers more ammunition for Fundamentalist preachers who decry everything that comes out of Hollywood. As with Ride Along, do not look for any discussion questions for it in the VP journal. Sad to see that this piece of junk was top film at the box office during its opening weekend!