Directed by #LP
Written by #EllenRapoport
The team behind Desperados should have shopped around for a better title for this lowbrow Netflix comedy. Not only has “Desperado” been used ample times already on the big and small screen, but the debut feature of Lauren Palmigiano (LP) is unintentionally a desperate, and unsuccessful, play for laughs.
Filter-free Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) sends a venomous email to dream lover Jerard (Robbie Amell) when he seemingly cuts contact after they spend a night together. However, when Jerard gets in touch to explain that he’s been involved in a serious accident in Mexico, Wesley sets off with her best friends (Sarah Burns and Anna Camp) to retrieve Jerard’s laptop before he reads the fateful message.
With such a ridiculous concept, and huge plot holes, Desperados slumps at the outset and never recovers. Why doesn’t Wesley just explain to Jerard that she sent him the email because she genuinely thought he ditched her? Given that she hadn’t heard from him for 5 days, there’s a chance he’d understand. As his girlfriend, wouldn’t it be more logical for Wesley to access Jerard’s computer by going to Mexico and actually spending time with him, rather than breaking into his hotel room? Couldn’t Jerard have just called the hotel and explained who Wesley is, hence why she is needing to get into his room? Considering that he's bed-ridden in hospital, fresh out of a coma, he’s unlikely to be checking his emails anytime soon anyway. And, surely, recalling the message in the first place might have worked too but the option never occurs to hapless Wesley and friends. When the smitten Wesley cries "What more do I want?", as she boasts about her new conquest, the answer is all too clear to the audience. It’s not Jerard. It’s a better script.
As Wesley, Nadim Pedrad is oddly cute, even if she’s a largely unsympathetic character. Though she offers some charisma, Pedrad is left trudging through bottom-drawer material here and she should be doing a lot better elsewhere. Burns and Camp come off even worse. Together, the trio are shallow, sex-obsessed and unfunny but Pedrad somehow at least makes Wesley a little likeable, even if her talent is largely misdirected. The same though cannot be said about her companions.
Besides the inviting Mexican-set cinematography, there’s no highs in Desperados. Just a sad series of lows. Wesley becomes the crush of a young boy (leading to a series of inappropriate gags), she’s humped by a dolphin and an uncomfortable-looking Heather Graham plays a meditation guru who ends up having lesbian sex with Camp’s character. How Graham has come to be involved in this misfire is probably the biggest question hanging over the film.
At 105 minutes, LP's would-be-comedy is also, unfortunately, overlong; a 15 minute trimming should have cut out some of the lame gags. When the movie drops the pratfalls and gross-out humour in the final reel, it becomes a little more tolerable. But it’s too little, too late. After all the fuss, things turn out not to be such a big deal after all and, predictably, Wesley ends up with someone else (viewers won’t be surprised as to who that is either).
If you want an absolutely no-brainer comedy, Desperados is waiting for you. Otherwise, Netflix fanatics would do well to keep browsing and find some genuine chuckles elsewhere.