So, thanks to Netflix, I watched this flick called Wild Cherry. The main curiosity about it was that it featured an actor from Lost who I had not really seen outside that context. This is a teen sex comedy in the vein of American Pie starring Alex Rousseau from Lost, a girl from the Hills and the daughter of Bruce Willis features Christian music. Weird.
Oh, and Rob Schneider was in it as the Jim’s Dad character. And Tia Carrere as the sexy teacher. But Rob Schneider played the Jim’s Dad Character. Really.
This may surprise you…but it is a rather derivative and typical movie. Honestly, had I not heard a certain band and been so stunned by their presence on the soundtrack? I would not have sat through to the end. The film opens with a montage of teens talking about their first time. It really is out of place for a hijinks based film, because the stories seem honest and earnest. The movie introduces us to Helen (Tania Raymonde) and her friends Katlyn (Rumer Willis) and Trish (Kristin Cavallari). Helen and her football player boyfriend Stanford (Ryan Merriman) are planning to have sex, and Helen has it hugely built up as a romantic ideal. Katlyn is making a documentary about losing your virginity (which is how each of the talking heads montages are presented-I suppose we should be thankful this was not a “found footage film”) and Trish is just kind of a blank.
It is revealed that the football team has a longstanding superstition based around something called the “Bang Book”. Someone (do not really know who) keeps track of the virgins in the school, and each football team member must deflower them or they could have a losing season. The guys each pick their girl (the quiet one, the weird one, the ugly one, the chubby one-the film is not polite) with Stanford getting Helen. See, there is the rub, Helen wants romance, Stanford wants to win.
Of course, the girls discover the Bang Book (again, who maintains this? No idea). Insulted and angry, they decide, rather than cutting the guys off, they will get revenge. And Hijinks ensue.
The problem here? All the hi-jinks are pretty much of the “been there, seen that” variety. Most are pretty much lifted from previous raunchy comedies of the late 90’s and the early 2000’s. The resulting moral of the story feels like American Pie all over again. Most of the characters are lifeless imitations. And everything just falls flat. It is rare that you can say Rob Schneider is the bright spot in a film (though, he has had his moments that seem to hint that he makes lousy choices in films, rather than he is “simply not funny)…but you know…He plays it down in this film. The problem is that it is a lite version of Jim’s Dad. The heart of the first three American Pie films was really Jim and His dad. Eugene Levy made Jim’s dad this bumbling, but caring dad trying to help his son navigate life. He tries so hard to reach out, you cannot help but love the guy, even as he stumbles around almost blindly.
The character of Helen’s dad is given the uncomfortable moments, but they are poorly conceived. We are introduced to Jim’s Dad in a moment of unplanned humiliation in the first American Pie-and he is quickly trying to help his son cover up an embarrassment. Wild Cherry goes right to “Dad trying to talk to child about sex” which might have been more effective after we had seen Helen’s Dad established, but here it just seems like someone assumed this would establish the father daughter relationship as awkward. It’s really too bad, because I think in the realm of raunchy teen sex comedies? The lead character’s relationship to their parent is absolutely important.
Wild Cherry clearly wants to tap that feel of American Pie, but ten years later the jokes feel old hat. And the characters are nowhere near as memorable as the characters in the early American Pie films. The characters are instead, bland, seemingly lacking any life other than what is needed to be revealed for the jokes and plot points. Jim was awkward and having trouble meeting girls, Helen dates a football player. Neither Katlyn nor Trish have anything to make them stand out. Katlyn carries a video camera and is “making a documentary”. Which I guess the filmmakers thought was all we needed to code her her as a video geek. And that is characterization right.
The script’s structure is a big problem, along with it’s flat characters. As I noted with Helen’s Dad, introductions of characters are never enough to make an impression (I still cannot really remember any of the guys). It’s lifeless, recycled jokes that feels as if there was no concern for the characters or a meaningful story. Which is fine if you are not trying to make a redeeming story. But the fact is most comedies along these lines take a pretty traditional approach where everyone learns a lesson. And the film, much like American Pie, attempts this. But it feels empty and hollow. American Pie was saves a lot by it’s heart, this film pretends to have heart, but it really seems more like the guy who lies and tells a girl he loves her to get her to sleep with him. There is a scene where the guys seek help from the originator of the Bang Book. And he basically tells them how messed up they are and that they totally misunderstood the point of the book-it was not a “bang book”, it was a book to help guys talk to girls. Huh?!
The insult here is that this raunchy comedy that is focused on teen girls is directed by a woman. Dana Lustig seems to have opted to go through the motions and show she can be a competent director. She does not seem to have tried to overcome a problem filled script. And that is kind of depressing, I would have hoped a woman would have shown greater care in her female characters at least. And it may be that this was a “build-a-resume” film…but the problem is, this wouldn’t be a “take-notice-of-this-director” film.
So, this is not anything unique in the unrelenting pantheon of “Teen Sex Comedies” and sadly to derivative to be terrible. It’s simply boring.