Updated: Apr 19
Directed by: Alex Decourville
Written by: Alex Decourville
Starring: Alex Decourville, Kayleigh Williams, Joseph Pledger, Dominic Cancelliere, Erin Butusov, Becca Spivey, B. J Halsall, Peter Toomey, Sharon Allen, Maria Defranco, Rob Motoc.
Film Review by: John McKeown
There’s a list as long as your joke prosthetic arm of film parodies of the American High School Reunion. From National Lampoon’s Class Reunion of 1982 to Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno in 2008, this quintessentially American barometer of social and economic success has been gleefully mocked and, sometimes, lethally shredded. The same treatment has been liberally meted out to the All American Superhero in films such as Mike Binder’s Blankman and Roy Griggs’ SuperCapers, to name but two.
Gamely combining the two genres Writer/Director Alex Decourville’s double send-up has the requisite Slacker ethos and the nerdy powerlessness of the misguided, embodied in its bespectacled superhero ‘Science Boy’ (Alex Decourville), but it completely fails to be funny. Parody demands a certain amount of brutality to succeed, and there are hints of that, particularly in the flashback scene to the school class display, where among the projects assembled by the students are graphic layouts on the art of masturbation and the benefits of Antifungal cream in the treatment of Thrush. On the night of the reunion itself an Award Ceremony offers no-cash prizes for categories such as Best Hair, Cutest Couple and Masturbated the Most Since High School, which are dourly amusing, particularly when the favourite-to-win Onanist loses to the female bartender of the venue, the Buzzbin Patio. While the performances mostly meet the minimum standard, Decourville seems to have deployed a real-life superpower: of scanning his script with X-Ray vision and niXing every potential laugh. There are at least two moments where he blinked. The first comes half an hour in when one reunionist is telling another, in a deadpan tone, of his predictable successes in the last decade: a wife, kids, a mortgage “and a couple of murders under my belt.” Later, Killjoy (played with some finesse by Joseph Pledger), Science Boy’s arch enemy, tells the Boy and his friends, who are completely at his mercy: “I want to put all of you out of my misery. But it occurs to me that I like having allies.” Witty rather than uproarious, but in the film’s achingly humourless aridity it lands like a teardrop. Physical comedy can be a good fall-back for a dull script but as the characters all exhibit various degrees of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, this also is in very short supply. John (B J Halsall) the proudly chronic masturbator is the liveliest of the group, for obvious reasons, and, in true National Lampoon Animal House style puts his insatiable member through its paces at a party to celebrate Science Boy’s disappearance. But watching a chubby bloke’s arse-crack jigging around while its owner drops various items of lingerie on his head has limited comic appeal. Unless John Belushi’s doing the jigging.
Perhaps the film’s one redeeming feature is that it doesn’t seem to give a damn if it’s funny or not, and this attitude is consistent throughout. Not trying to be funny is of course a time-honoured method of being funny. But in filmmaking, it requires careful thought and even more careful writing. #JohnMcKeown