Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Trevor Moore Movie Review

There are a number of words that work as simple descriptors of the new movie, Miss March.

Puerile. Sophomoric. Juvenile. Tasteless. Scatological. Formulaic.

Those are the words that first come to mind. On reflection, however, there are a few more words that also apply.

Touching. Heartfelt. Promising.

I will confess that were it not for Charlottesville celebrity Trevor Moore's involvement in this project (he stars, co-directs, and co-wrote the screenplay), I would not have felt an urge to see it. I would have expected more of Moore's local fans to have been similarly attracted, but the audience at the 9:50 screening on Friday night could not have numbered more than 20.

Then it occurred to me: The primary audience for Miss March can't be admitted to cinemas to see it. The movie is rated R, and the target demographic is 15-year-old boys.

Those boys will have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD, sometime next month.

Those boys will enjoy the story of two friends making their way across the country (from South Carolina to California by way of Chicago) to the Playboy Mansion. Why? They are seeking the high-school girlfriend of one of them (Eugene, who has been in a coma for four years), who turns out to be the Playboy centerfold in the magazine's March issue. (Hence the title, "Miss March.")

To be sure, Moore and his co-director/screenwriter Zach Cregger show a lot of promise. They seem to have absorbed many of the lessons learned by watching countless buddy flicks/road pictures. Hope and Crosby, they ain't -- but the final scene in Miss March (over the credits) suggests a sequel may be on its way. (That would depend on how much money this one makes, of course.)

The problem is, Miss March is an uneven product. While its set pieces evoke a few chuckles, it's not LOL funny. It even generally lacks the cleverness that Charlottesville cable TV watchers learned to expect from the old "Trevor Moore Show." (That sly sense of humor rises above the surface in a few places, but it's generally overwhelmed by predictable poop jokes.)

From my seat in the dark, it looked like Creggar and Moore aimed for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle but only achieved Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. All the hallmarks of a buddy/road picture are there, including a private meeting with an eminence grise (in this case, Hugh Hefner, whose presence was welcome but who appeared to be reading his lines off of cue cards) as well as the requisite number of obstacles, obstructions, setbacks, and pratfalls (not to mention numerous shots of naked breasts and buttocks).

One directorial shortcoming is the characterization of Tucker (played by Moore). While Cregger's character, Eugene, is portrayed exactly as he should be -- quiet and reserved, keeping a cap on Eugene's anger and anguish until just the right moment -- Moore's Tucker is just a bit too loopy and about as sharp as the corners on a round table. If he had toned it down a bit and let Tucker be more of a parallel to Eugene with an added soup├žon of sex obsession, Moore's character would have been more believable and, frankly, funnier. (Note to Moore and Cregger: go back and watch more Hope and Crosby. Really.)

I don't wish to dismiss Miss March entirely. I am confident that it will win guffaws from teenage boys across America. And that is as it should be.

I am also confident that this is the start of great careers for both Moore, a natural comic, and Cregger, a natural leading man -- careers in front of and behind the camera. Still, it's a start that will embarrass both a bit in 25 years, when they'll be faced with clips of Miss March at an AFI tribute dinner.

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