- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Consider “Eurotrip” an equal-opportunity offender, mocking ugly Americans and slimy Europeans with identical fervor.

It’s also the kind of gleefully R-rated product teens will snicker at until they realize their dorm buddy down the hall is wittier after a double espresso.

“Eurotrip’s” quartet of little-known actors scampers across the pond to parts pretty well-known just so the main character stands a chance at romance. Aw, it all sounds downright sweet — until the sadomasochism scene. Or the incestuous make-out session, for that matter.

For a spell, the film’s anarchic spirit and wit threaten to put it in the same league as “Old School” and “Road Trip,” unabashedly gross films saved by a few uproarious moments. It’s hardly coincidental that, as “Eurotrip’s” ads trumpet proudly, all three films share the same producing team. Halfway through, however, the sophomoric humor starts to wear thin, and we’re left with adolescent romps that would have been fun if we had taken them, not our screen surrogates.

By all measures, Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) should be a pretty happy fellow. He just graduated from high school, and he’s hankering for a break before going all pre-med on his pals. But his girlfriend just dumped him, and his male German pen pal is hitting on him via e-mail. Grumpy and sore, Scotty quickly fires off an angry e-mail setting Mieke straight about his own sexual proclivities.

But Mieke isn’t a guy’s German name, his pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts) explains. It’s a girl, and a hottie at that. So Scotty impulsively decides to travel to Germany to apologize in person and perhaps fall in love while doing so. Cooper can’t wait to join his buddy, and, besides, two of their best friends (played by Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) will be in Europe at the time. It’s a small part of the world, right? Unfortunately, getting there isn’t so easy, especially when they run into a band of soccer hooligans, an amorous train traveler and a dominatrix (Lucy Lawless).

Road pictures live and die on their casts and the misadventures lined up before them. On the former front, young Mr. Mechlowicz bears the befuddled mien of a young Tom Hanks or, if that’s too charitable, perhaps Mr. Hanks’ son, Colin. And Mr. Pitts looks like David Spade but delivers his lines a bit like Jeff Goldblum. Like Mr. Spade, Mr. Pitts thinks his work is funnier than it is.

“Eurotrip” front-loads the best gags, particularly the “Scotty Doesn’t Know” song, sung by Matt Damon wearing multiple piercings in a goofy cameo. First-time director Jeff Schaffer shows some panache with the better comic set pieces, trusting us to get the gags without beating us over our heads. At the same time, he lets a skirmish between Scotty and a robotic mime drag on far too long, so consider his education a work in progress.

Hollywood isn’t always eager to march out aggressively profane comedies like “Eurotrip” anymore, with the “American Pie” films being one obvious, profitable exception. It’s a safer bet to skirt the PG-13 line, a demarcation that grows blurrier by the second, and bring in as many adolescents as will fit in a multiplex.

At its best, “Eurotrip” reassures us that it’s all right to laugh at the naughtier bits so long as they’re redeemed by some comic truths.

However, by the time a child actor is marching around, Hitler-like, in the background in the final reel, it’s obvious this “Eurotrip” should have its passport revoked.

**

WHAT: “Eurotrip”

RATING: R (Frequent nudity, sexual situations, drug use and profanity)

CREDITS: Directed by Jeff Schaffer. Written by Mr. Schaffer, Alec Berg and David Mandel. Produced by Mr. Berg, Mr. Mandel, Jackie Marcus and Daniel Goldberg.

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

WEB SITE: www.eurotrip-themovie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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