March 19, 2009

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Miss March (R)
Two of the doofiest upright-walking male beings this side of chimpanzee set off on a road trip to the Playboy Mansion in Miss March, a painful sub-literate comedy that features at least three major pooping scenes.

Because, you see, when Eugene Bell (Zach Cregger) wakes up from a four-year coma, his atrophy leaves him unable to completely control his bowels. So at moments of extreme distress — such as when a rapper whose name I can’t put in this review (Craig Robinson) tells Eugene that he (the rapper) has slept with his (Eugene’s) ex-girlfriend — Eugene poos. A lot. And if you are sort of snickering to yourself as you’re reading that, trust me, even for poop humor it isn’t funny. (The rapper’s name, which ends with a “dot mpeg,” is the closest the movie gets to humor, mostly because of the “dot mpeg,” but it’s still a couple of light years away from actual funny.)

Eugene went into the coma on prom night, moments before heading upstairs to have sex with his girlfriend Cindi (Raquel Alessi). When he wakes up, he finds that she’s moved away and the only person regularly visiting him is his friend Tucker Cleigh (Trevor Moore).

A word about the Tucker character: I’m not sure how to describe him, but what’s wrong with Tucker is symbolic of what’s wrong with this movie. He has the wacky hair and Hawaiian shirt that are supposed to say “irresponsible” and “zany” but to me just say “comedy retread.” Moore plays him a bit like he’s in a high school drama class production of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It’s the physicality of Jim Carrey with the attempted wise-ass-ness of a low-rent version of Charlie Sheen’s character from Two and a Half Men and the voice reminiscent of Screech from Saved by the Bell. In fact, he talks and moves and spazzes a bit like Screech doing the Jim Carrey role from Ace Ventura. It’s a cheap and disturbing mishmash and it’s hard to watch, like a bad impersonation on Saturday Night Live or an elderly relative who is insisting that he is, in fact, Napoleon.

But Tucker is the squiggly to Eugene’s straight lace, he’s the Larry to Eugene’s Jack Tripper, so it’s Tucker who naturally has a subscription to Playboy and therefore Tucker who sees Cindi posing as Miss March and tells Eugene that they’ve got to go cross country so he (Eugene) can finally lose his virginity like he should have on prom night.

Since I’ve picked on Moore, let’s now pick on Cregger, who was in a horrible mess called College last year. College wasn’t so different on paper than oodles of coming-of-age movies where high school students or newly minted freshmen learn about the joys of college hedonism. But in reality it was a screaming frontal lobe headache to sit through. Everything felt cheap and flimsy and threadbare. It was like somehow a comedy had been made by the same company that makes those discount store T-shirts that fall apart after one wash.

Miss March is just like that but awfuler. It takes a stupid and played-out premise and adds lameness (and, of course, a reoccurring poop gag) to it until finally we get to the requisite Hugh Hefner cameo that, if nothing else, signals that the movie’s not far from over.

Every comedy does not have to be a Judd Apatow comedy, but Miss March is a perfect demonstration of how it takes more than just the crudeness that is one of Apatow’s movies’ hallmarks to make a good raunchy comedy. A throwaway comedy last fall called Sex Drive covered similar ground as Miss March (though without the corporate buy-in from Playboy, for all the nothing that brought to this movie) but did it with charm and actual wit. Miss March, though it clearly wants to be daring and outrageous, is simply witless. F

Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use. Directed by Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore and written by Cregger, Moore, Dennis Haggerty, Ryan Homchick and Thomas Mimms, Miss March is an hour and 29 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Fox Searchlight Pictures.