Directed by: Alex Magaña
Written by: Alex Magaña, Matt Lowe
At around the 58-minute mark of Slapped! The Movie, our protagonist asks himself ‘what the heck did I just watch?’ (albeit with a little more profanity). I found myself repeating this sentiment as I sat through an overlong film that manages to achieve the trifecta of gratuitous, offensive, and dreadfully unfunny. Slapped! The Movie desperately tries to appeal to the stoner comedy crowd, imitating the vibe of the Harold and Kumar films, with a sprinkling of Superbad, but without any of the witticisms, clever commentary, or heart that make such films enjoyable. What we’re given is the forsaken step child of Freaky Friday and Freddy Got Fingered that is so brash, childish, and arrogant about its own worth that it lacks almost any merit.
As alluded, it’s a body swap comedy. Matt is a slob, Alex is shy, they mess around with each other’s lives before ultimately realising one another’s struggles blah, blah, blah; you know how it ends. The main point of contention with this indie flick is the writing, which prides itself on being as ‘anti PC’ as possible. Nothing is off limits to writer, star, and director Alex Magaña, including jokes about bulimia, incest, racial slurs, fat shaming, child abuse, date rape, #PTSD, and a sex toy in the shape of Taylor Swift’s mouth. There may exist a sect that’ll find some appeal here, but for the vast majority at least one ‘joke’ will incite audible shock.
Audiences will equally find this to be the longest two hours – yes, two hours – of their lives due to terrible pacing, cluttered by poorly written filler plots and gags that go absolutely nowhere.
Almost every character who isn’t one of the leads seemingly exists purely to waste more of your time. To say that certain scenes should’ve been chopped in the editing room is an understatement; Slapped! begs to be half the length it currently sits at, and with such a simplistic story and basic characters (we’ll get to them), it could easily be a ten-minute short.
To give credit where credit is due, the #cinematography and musical choices aren’t half bad. The film appears to have a decent budget behind it and the music often sounds professional, similar to what you’d hear in a blockbuster of the same ilk. Equally, there are some genuinely nice shots, with good continuity editing, and some well-done effects. In particular, a drug trip scene that might actually be the highlight of the film, uses clever techniques that make it uncomfortable to watch, in a good way. There are confusing editing choices, however, such as a shot where a character charges toward another, only to appear further and further away, before appearing directly in front of said player.
That’s about where the positives end, unfortunately. The immature writing isn’t helped by co-writers and stars Lowe and Magaña’s wooden performances, which make poorly written characters even less likeable or relatable. There are tiny moments that hint at decent acting, such as when the two reconcile, but such moments are immediately ruined by another bit of childish gross out humour or an offensive line. You could likely write an entire essay about the portrayal of women in this film, but let’s just say, they’re not exactly three dimensional. Other performances are equally bad, with almost all lacking believability or any qualities to make the characters understandable or endearing. Pretty much everyone bar the director’s self-insert exists as a punchline; it’s a mess.
The duo clearly try to craft an irreverent stoner #comedy, creating a world where the f bomb is dropped every two seconds, and office workers snort coke and smear the walls with faeces. This world isn’t close to believable or likeable and the ultimate tone is a nasty one. Slapped! revels in every bodily fluid, every rude word, and every insult. What it does not do, however, is create likable protagonists, craft a well-paced story, or (and this is the big one) write anything resembling a clever joke. It feels like a product of a different time, when erections and marijuana were considered the peak of comedy, and films obnoxiously laughed at their own self-proclaimed bravado.
Well, I’m glad Slapped! The Movie finds itself so hilarious, because I’d imagine nobody else will.