The experience of seeing the new teen sex romp "Eurotrip" is much like receiving a few postcards from a friend's grand tour of the Continent. A glimpse of familiar landmarks, some references to other sights seen, a general idea of the fun had by all ... but ultimately for you a fairly unsatisfying event.
Even with the low expectations engendered by the movie's title and Euro antecedents (Euro Disney ... Euro pop ... Euro trash ... you get the idea) the film fails to reach even modest levels of real humor. It amounts to one severely deflated Euro.
The writing team of Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer — former editors at the Harvard Lampoon, TV writers most recently guilty of the updating of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" — concocted this tale of a U.S. high school student endeavoring to reach his sexy German e-mail pen pal with a little help from his friends and a lot of hindrance from a contrived plot.
Striving for a kind of "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Booty Call," Berg, Mandel and Schaffer (with the latter making his feature directing debut) wind up with a fairly lame treatment of what might have been a fresh, unconventional take on the Americans abroad scenario rather than a tired retread painted in strokes so broad it could have been made before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Backed by the producers (including Ivan Reitman) of "Road Trip" and "Old School," "Eurotrip" fails to match even the relative comedic heights of those two giants of the genre.
Scott Mechlowicz, the nominal lead in a role Freddie Prinze Jr. would have filled a few years ago, plays Scotty Thomas, a sensitive, guileless Ohioan dumped by his duplicitous girlfriend Fiona ("Smallville's" Kristin Kreuk) just as he graduates because he is too predictable (a condition the movie shares in abundance). Then, through a dubious, language-induced misunderstanding, he mistakes his online pen pal for a male sexual predator and unceremoniously ends their correspondence before coming to the realization that Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) is actually a comely Fräulein and the one to boot.
Along with his best pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts), who pushes Scotty to be unpredictable for once, the two finagle a low-budget flight to London (as close to Berlin as they can get; "You can practically swim there," Coop helpfully points out). A series of misadventures leads them to Paris, where they hook up with their buddies from home, twins Jamie and Jenny (Travis Wester and Michelle Trachtenberg), who just happen to be backpacking across Europe. The quartet then crisscross their way across the continent and take in a few sights in places such as Amsterdam and Bratislava, Slovakia.
Finding Mieke seems to become almost beside the point, and since there was no real effort to create any perceptible connection between her and Scotty in the first place, the audience couldn't care less if they ever get together.
While the cast members are all appealing, with characters that are barely penciled in it falls on their shoulders to make the film even passably watchable, which they only barely manage. There are also some mildly amusing cameos, the revelation of which would deprive anyone determined to see the movie of its precious few little surprises.
In a serious case of slumming, career fatigue or both, Academy Award winning production designer Allan Starski ("Schindler's List"), along with visual effects supervisor Kevin Blanks, does a credible job of making Prague, where most of the film was shot, resemble nearly all the locations depicted in the film.
Exhibiting the cultural sensitivity of Conan O'Brien's hand-puppet dog (not surprisingly, Berg and Schaffer once wrote for "Late Night"), the movie aims to ridicule. It's not that the humor is offensive — it's too weak to offend anyone — it's that the targets are so clichéd. English soccer hooligans (with bad teeth no less), a Dutch dominatrix, a leering Italian homosexual, the Vatican and neo-Nazism are all targets, as they have been for decades. There are fresher and more clever ways to skewer Europe and Europeans, none of which you'll find here.
The filmmakers also exhibit a certain contempt for their target audience, apparently expecting them to share with the four poorly drawn American characters an ignorance of other people and places. Judging by the post-credits outtakes, at least the cast had a good time, and why not? They got to go to Europe, while all we get is this lousy movie.
MPAA rating: R, for sexuality, nudity, language and drug/alcohol content
Times guidelines: Fairly raunchy, but the nudity is oddly dull.
Scott Mechlowicz...Scott Thomas
Jacob Pitts...Cooper Harris
DreamWorks Pictures presents a Montecito Picture Co. production, a Berg/Mandel/Schaffer film. Director Jeff Schaffer. Producers Daniel Goldberg, Jackie Marcus, Alec Berg, David Mandel.
Even with low expectations, "Eurotrip" fails to reach even modest levels of humor.
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