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Eurotrip

eurotrip

Movie review by Greg Carlson

“Eurotrip” resembles so many other recent teen sexploitation comedies, like “Road Trip” and “American Pie,” one is initially inclined to dismiss it on principle. The thing is, the better movies in this subgenre have an intrepid stubbornness about them – perhaps because any intelligence and creativity tends to disappear under the sex and alcohol-fueled debauchery. So while it seems like faint praise to say that “Eurotrip” is amusing despite itself, fans of outrageous humiliation and over-the-top sight gags will no doubt feel completely satisfied after viewing the film.

Our story begins with Scotty, (Scott Mechlowicz, who cribs heavily from the Brad Pitt school of enunciation) on the day of his high school graduation. His longtime girlfriend gives him the boot immediately following the ceremony, and to make matters worse, he believes his German email pen pal Mieke has made romantic overtures in the most recent correspondence. Never mind how Scotty has been able to sustain an intimate epistolary relationship without a command of the foreign language – “Eurotrip” demands that you suspend disbelief if you are to enjoy even one second of its running time. Scotty is so inept, he doesn’t realize that Mieke is a girl, and sends a return email so coarse and dismissive, Mieke deletes Scotty from her address book.

Desperate to track down Mieke in Berlin in order to make amends, Scotty enlists best pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts) to help him, and the pair hooks up with “worst twins ever” Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Jamie (Travis Wester), who were already backpacking through several countries. Stories in which two characters are destined to meet up demand that the complications that stand in the way take up a massive amount of energy and effort, and “Eurotrip” is no exception. Following a roundabout path pregnant with diversions, the bumbling American quartet finds plenty of time to engage in experimental behaviors.

The strongest comic elements of “Eurotrip” emerge out of stereotypical Yankee xenophobia. Director Jeff Schaffer co-wrote the screenplay with Alec Berg and David Mandel, and the trio gets plenty of mileage out of thuggish British soccer hooligans, a lopsided Eastern Europe exchange rate, the mind-altering properties of absinthe ingestion, and the seamier consequences of choosing the wrong Amsterdam sex club. “Eurotrip” operates like many road movies – the travel serves to set up one outrageous episode after another – and one of the best throwaway gags is a goofy showdown between Scotty and a French “robot” mime who takes his “art” very seriously.

Executive producer Ivan Reitman must also have some charisma when it comes to convincing stars to do cameos. Matt Damon is hysterical as a pierced and tattooed rock singer who performs a rousing song about Scotty. Lucy Lawless struts and snarls as the proprietor of an S/M society and Fred Armisen gleefully portrays a very creepy Italian train passenger who enjoys taking advantage of dark tunnels. Vinnie Jones is Mad Maynard, Manchester United’s number one fan, and Joanna Lumley, as a seen-it-all youth hostel clerk, ends up in the outtakes that play during the end credits. The entire cast, veterans and newcomers alike, appears to have a ball, and whether or not you’ve ever been to Europe, the jokes and gag sequences (many of them tremendously off-color – we’re talking Hitler, incest, and the Pope for starters) are broad enough to elicit plenty of hearty laughter.

This review was originally published in the High Plains Reader the week of 1/26/04.

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