Cloying and smug when it's not being unfunny and crass, the high school reunion comedy "Back in the Day" hits lows with a frequency that suggests a world-class sharp shooter or free-throw king.
With every thudding gross-out gag or mistimed bit of sentimentality, writer-director-star Michael Rosenbaum's movie acts as if it deserves a high-five.
Instead, this aggressively clichéd tale of Jim (Rosenbaum), a struggling Hollywood actor attending his Midwestern high school reunion, is about as entertaining as watching two guys vomit simultaneously, to name one of the movie's prouder moments of dreary raunch. (The rest is farmed out to weirdo comic Harland Williams as the most party-animalistic of Jim's old buddies.)
Fighting the tide of amateurish, sexist and vaguely bullying humor is sweet-faced Morena Baccarin as the ex-flame, smiling/flirting with admirable obliviousness to the ineptitude around her. (It's as if she's been Photoshopped in from a kinder, wiser movie.)
When you can't tell if an Air Supply song is being used ironically or to evoke genuine nostalgia, you've got a problem. As TV's Lex Luthor (on "Smallville"), Rosenbaum knows from bad guys, but does his movie-directing debut have to feel like an act of villainy too?
"Back in the Day." Rated R for language, sexual content and nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At AMC Universal CityWalk.
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