In order to fully enjoy Eurotrip, you need to be willing to completely shut off your mind and relax as you soak for ninety minutes in the comedy's mildly off-colored jokes and the fresh-faced cast's good-natured charm and gung-ho willingness to do just about anything required of them. Then, and only then, are you likely to emerge feeling as though you've spent your money on anything remotely worthwhile.
Naked lunch: Webster,
Mechlowicz and Pitts
Actually, you should think of any money spent on Eurotrip as an investment in the future works of first-time director Jeff Schaffer and co-writers David Mandel and Alec Berg. All should be encouraged to keep moving forward in what promises to be bright and shining careers. Though Eurotrip is a little clunky in spots, the filmmakers -- who worked together on Seinfeld -- exhibit a knack for creating comic situations. (It should come as no surprise that all three were editors of The Harvard Lampoon, as much of Eurotrip's comedic core is based upon the Lampoon brand of comedy.)
Eurotrip has its moments of pure, sophomoric raunchiness, but the perversity factor is mild, especially when compared to the appalling American Pie saga or anything made by The Farrelly Brothers. Whether or not the movie makes you laugh is wholly dependent on your threshold for humor of the dumb and dumber kind.
Clearly my threshold is quite low these days, as I laughed loud and hard at the various misadventures experienced by a four friends during a post-high school graduation European trip. There is, incredulously enough, a threadbare storyline attached to the insanity, but it's inconsequential to the individual episodes, each of which follows the basic two rules of comedy -- set it up and pay it off.
The best pay offs are set in The Vatican, where one of the lads is mistaken for the Pope, as well as a sequence in which the frisky foursome find themselves stranded in a remote, poverty-ravaged Eastern European country with only $1.83 to their names. As with most teen-driven comedies, Eurotrip is extraordinarily obsessed with sex and nudity -- and mostly of the male kind. There's an encounter with a throng of thong-less European men on a nude beach that, quite frankly, left me wondering how the film skirted an NC-17 rating. "I've never seen so many penises, " gasps one of the boys, paying little mind to the fact that most of the wildly wiggling sausages are attached to sixty-year-old men. The full-frontal nudity is surpassed by so many male posterior shots that Eurotrip could be deployed as a board certification test for aspiring proctologists.
Part of the reason Eurotrip works as well as it does lies with the affable quartet of leading teens -- Scott Mechlowicz (who resembles a younger, less elongated version of Ed's Thomas Cavanaugh), Jacob Pitts (who calls to mind a slightly less annoying David Spade), Michelle Trachtenberg (of TV's Buffy) and the enjoyably goofy Travis Webster.
The movie contains a bevy of small treats, including Matt Damon, unrecognizable as the lead singer of a punk band, Lucy Lawless as a Dutch dominatrix, and SNL featured player Fred Armisen, whose over-the-top bit as a Italian sexpot who puts moves on the gang in a cramped train compartment is the film's best running gag. The portrayal of a Youth Hostel Clerk by Joanne Lumley, of Absolutely Fabulous, appears to have been left on the cutting room floor -- but this may not be a bad thing, as exhibited by the snippets requisitely resurrected in outtakes that accompany the final credits.
Eurotrip contains a buoyant, unfettered joy that proves infectious. If it's not the ultimate comic voyage, then at least it's a journey that puts a smile on your face and keeps it there.
This is a no-brainer year for Oscar picking. We might as well be shooting fish in a barrel -- or just fetching them out of a pond with our hands, like Gollum.
The emotionally resonant conclusion to the Lord of the Rings epic, Return of the King should take home the top prizes for director and picture, as well as obvious nods for makeup and art direction. The acting categories are a little harder to pick, with the exception of Outstanding Actress, which should go to Charlize Theron for her mind-blowing transformation into serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The Oscars will be broadcast this Sunday, February 29, at 8 p.m. on ABC (which means we Alias addicts have to go yet another week without the best show on network television). That said, here are my annual picks in selected categories.
Actor -- Who deserves to win: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation. Who will win: Sean Penn, Mystic River.
Actress -- Who deserves to win: Charlize Theron, Monster. Who will win: Theron.
Supporting Actor -- Who deserves to win: Djimon Hounsou, In America. Who Will Win: Hounsou.
Supporting Actress -- Who deserves to win: Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog. Who will win: Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain.
Cinematography -- What deserves to win: Master & Commander. What will win: Seabiscuit.
Costume Design -- What deserves to win: The Last Samurai. What will win: Samurai.
Editing -- What deserves to win: Return of the King. What will win: King.
Musical score -- What deserves to win: Return of the King. What will win: King.
Animated Feature -- What deserves to win: The Triplets of Belleville. What will win: Finding Nemo.
Documentary Feature -- What deserves to win: Capturing the Friedmans. What will win: My Architect.
Adapted Screenplay -- What deserves to win: American Splendor. What will win: Splendor.
Original Screenplay -- What deserves to win: Lost in Translation. What will win: Translation.
Director -- Who deserves to win: Peter Jackson, Return of the King. Who will win: Jackson.
Picture -- What deserves to win: Return of the King. What will win: King.