THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Eurotrip reminds me of the kind of movies National Lampoon used to make, back before it started putting its name on the sub par straight-to-video crap that has unfortunately become its domain. The film is raunchy as all get-out, and it has very deliberate satirical targets. It pushes the envelope in ways that make you cackle with naughty glee, like a 10-year old talking about bodily noises.

Scott Mechlowicz stars as Scott Thomas, a recent high school graduate who has just been unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend. He confides in his German e-mail pen pal Mike, who offers to come to America to console him. Scott fires off a homophobic rejection, only to then learn that Mike’s name is actually Mieke – a common German girl’s name. Moreover, he discovers that Mieke is a really hot girl. Scott decides that he has to make his way to Berlin in order to apologize; he also wants to “hook up” with her. Along with his friends Cooper (Jacob Pitts), Jamie (Travis Wester), and Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg), Scott travels across Europe to find Mieke.

The trip does not go as easily as planned. The foursome meets up with some rowdy English soccer hooligans, visits a nude beach, and is accosted by a grope-happy Italian (hilariously played by “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen) on a train. In one of the most hysterical scenes, they get stranded in a greatly impoverished section of Eastern Europe, where a local tries to impress them with his knowledge of American culture (i.e. outdated MC Hammer references and age-old catch phrases like “where’s the beef?”). They even guzzle absinthe, which leads to uncomfortable results for two of them.

For me, the funniest section was a stop-off in Rome, where Scott and friends visit the Vatican. As a Catholic, I appreciated the faux pas committed when Cooper rings the bell signifying that the Pope has died. I won’t spoil what comes next, but I love the way the joke builds on itself.

Eurotrip frequently pushes the boundaries of good taste. In fact, I am pretty sure that I would have been seriously offended by the movie had I ever stopped laughing. There’s one moment in particular – involving Mieke’s little stepbrother – that walks right up to the border and sticks its leg over the edge. I almost felt guilty for laughing, but I just couldn’t stop. That’s the way this movie is; it made me laugh in spite of everything I thought was right and decent. Perhaps that’s because there’s nothing mean-spirited about the tone. Despite all the raunchy humor, the movie never takes a nasty view of anything. It maintains its good nature throughout.

Filmmakers Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer (who, astoundingly, also wrote the wretched Cat in the Hat) are really satirizing the naïveté of American teenagers, who view Europe as a place where the sex is free, the drugs are flowing, and the morals are loose. For instance, in Amsterdam, Cooper heads off to check out one of the infamous sex clubs, only to discover that it’s much more industrial and cruel than he imagined. Meanwhile, Jenny and Scott think they’re high after eating pot brownies that don’t actually contain any marijuana. That’s basically the main joke of the movie: teenagers go to Europe in search of “freedom,” only to discover that their foreign fantasies don’t exactly live up to the real thing.

Eurotrip is the kind of movie where you want to run and tell your friends about all of the “good parts” – the famous movie star who cameos as a rock singer, what happens when Cooper uses the “safe word” in the sex club, the catastrophe of the nude beach, etc. The story may not be anything special, but there are lots of moments here that you will remember and talk about.

Many words can be applied to Eurotrip: vulgar, crude, bawdy, sophomoric. The only one that really matters, though, is “funny.”

( out of four)

Eurotrip is rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and drug/alcohol content. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.

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