Barely Legal (2003)
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Not a movie you will fully regret watching, but also nothing to write home about. It only contains maybe a handful of laughing out loud moments and that's that.
I would have given it a 4.5, but since that is not possible I'll give it a 5/10.
Have you seen American Pie? Of course you have, everyone has. Have you seen National Lampoon's other stuff? Of course you have, everyone has. Have you seen Animal House? Of course--wait... wait... I caught a large portion of it on the television but I haven't seen all of it. Well that's okay, I got the point.
Did you like those films? Well, whichever way you answer the above question will determine what your enjoyment of this film will be like. I myself don't really think those films are THAT BAD, they're just not THAT GOOD. That wonderfully politically correct way of saying that this film was pure fluff but I laughed anyway.
Well I didn't necessarily laugh, but it was amusing. I think if it weren't for the fact that the father figure tries to pull a Eugene Levy, the stupid high school bully is trying to be a Stifler, and sometimes the characters seem to do things that not only don't fit with their character in the film, but don't match anything that happens in real life, this would be a pretty good movie.
Even despite those details (which are actually minor in the way they were presented), the film does its job and does it right. The overall structure is clichéd, but mostly the tone isn't. Scenes like the porno actress having dinner with the family when the girlfriend walks in, or the fact that said girlfriend isn't what he's looking for in the first place, stuff like that is enough to relax and enjoy the film if you're willing to not worry too much about wasting your time.
I would have to say that, if anything, the whole competitor storyline and all that Scarface stuff really got to me the most, considering I find the Scarface dream to be an utterly banal and hideous allusion for everyone to always make, and the competitor was just kind of stupid overall.
However in view of the recent movies I automatically reduced my expectations and expected nothing more than a few laughs a bunch of hot nude women and nothing out of the ordinary.
And thats exactly what I got!!
Every thing about this movie is run-of-the-mill and formula based but when you factor in the target audience (ME and others like me who like to escape reality once in a while indulge in a bit of immature fun and fantasy) then the formula assures a decent product (Most of the Times).
This movie is pieced together using cast from other National Lampoon movies and the best part is apart from the women (who all look over 20-25) the guys look like they could still be in high school (or thereabouts).
Decent performances are given from everyone but Tom Arnold was completely wasted in this movie.
The jokes were formula based but some of them were hilarious and continued in the gross tradition of others, the monkey mating scene, the hairdresser scene, the 2-3 hilarious porn shoots were too good and make this movie worth the rent.
Other than that this movie is filled with loads of chuckles and the regular stuff such as the quest for true love, nerds becoming cool etc etc which was in fact handled so badly that any potential that his movie had was ruined. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT THE TEEN EMOTIONAL STUFF IS THE ONLY THING THAT BRINGS THIS MOVIE DOWN. Not because it there but because it been handled so badly.
The sound effects of this movie were actually quite good but there was no soundtrack to speak of.
A few people who stood out in this movie were Daniel Farber and Horatio Sanz as the hilarious Vic Ram-a lot.
Direction production etc was not really important but was decent.
Writing could have been way better in both the emotional and the comedy scenes but the emotional scenes were badly handled (comedy was good but not up-to its potential, teens in porn is full proof formula).
In all a funny movie with just a couple of scenes making the entire movie worth it.
However keep this movie in the Back-up list as it doesn't warrant a trip to the store on its own merit.(As always if you don't like such movies then don't rent them).
-s PATHETHIC EMOTIONAL SCENES, Tom Arnold wasted, Nothing out of the ordinary (as expected)
+/s meets lowered expectations, so so casting
+s a bunch of hilarious scenes, lots of chuckles, Vic Ramalot.
total 6/10 (absolute and factoring in expectations)
The film, a part of the National Lampoon series (whatever that is), was directed by David M. Evans (answers on a postcard as to what the 'M' might stand for) whose previous crimes against cinema include the 3rd and 4th Beethoven outings some years ago and who is also scheduled to direct the up and coming 'Ace Ventura Junior' film. That should be, if Jim Carrey sequels/prequels not starring Jim Carrey are anything to go by in the form of Son of the Mask and Dumb and Dumberer, utterly unwatchable at the very best.
This particular little travesty however follows three young American boys at high school as they attempt to feed off Tony Montana's ideation of 'getting the money, getting the power and getting the women'. Yeah, trouble is Tony Montana had nothing to do with making pornography and Barely Legal has nothing to do with chasing the American dream: it's just clueless, horny kids using porn as a front to get closer to girls. The film is fundamentally flawed in every retrospect. Any film entitled 'Barely Legal' which revolves around people making pornography and still manages to worm its way into a realm of the '15' certificate over here in Britain instead of the '18' certificate has to have done something cataclysmically wrong during the making process. Clearly, the BBFC deem it not all that bad in terms of gratuity and I just wonder if that was the certificate the makers were aiming for I doubt it.
The boys making the film are Deacon (von Detten); Fred (Denman) and Matt (Farber), three hapless individuals given mercilessly unfunny introductions about their relationships toward girls and some of their 'habits' when it comes to communicating with them. The film totally disregards women from the off but the sad fact is that's an absolute given in this genre. There is lots of slow motion, lots of hair flicking and cutesy smiling girls looking flirtatious although any sane viewer will just yawn at it all. At one point in the film, a character whilst making the porno exclaims something along the lines of "Women's points of view don't even matter in these sorts of movies" and he's sort of hit the nail on the head for all the wrong reasons when he says 'these sorts of movies', is it the real film actually recognising how rubbish it knows it is? If so then it's admitting it is rubbish; if not, then it's admitting to its blatant sexism right there.
I think when the people that wrote this actually finished it, they were twenty or so pages short of 90 odd minutes. Thus, the messy and dull narrative that opens up to do with Deacon loosing his friends as the project falls apart is silly and doesn't work; it feels thrown in and manufactured out of the primary story about kids wanting girls so they make porn. It's the overall idea I don't understand. When will people learn that pornography is not funny? When will people realise that films about pornography are not funny? Glimpses or very quick cuts of bras, nipples and so forth do-not-make-people-laugh, simple; they are an on screen visualisation of someone's fantasy writ down and writ large across the screen for others to see it's not funny and it's a waste of everyone's time.
IMDb has this film on its 'release dates' page opening at Cannes, in May 2003 it's one of those screenings at Cannes you just wish you were there for, purely for the reaction and the witnessing of the mass walkout I'm sure there was, that is of course if the fact it was shown there is true in the first place. Supposedly, Irreversible is the most walked out of film at Cannes ever, but that's only because no one was paying any attention to the screenings of this junk. Everywhere else, this was direct to DVD and the cast probably wanted it swept under the carpet for good measure. When the friendships have been broken down and patched up in doubly quick time, there's time for local porn king Vic Ramalot (Sanz) to waltz around in public complete with gun drawn hunting for the kids who he assumes to be up and coming rivals threatening his business. It really is that daft and that bad.
National Lampoon, apparently meant something in the field of comedy at one stage in time, but I can't help but feel that it's reputation and stock nowadays is somewhat diminished given this showing. Barely Legal tells the story of 3 teenage guys who are inept with the girls and perpetually short on cash. Reasoning that they need money to get girls in the first place, they come across the idea of making their own porn film (not exactly an original concept). As preposterous as that sounds it's little in comparison with the casting. As well as conforming to the usual rule of anyone under thirty five could play a teenager in a fictionalised high-school setting, the leads are a somewhat strange combination. Two of the key characters are your typical geeky looking guys who for all intents and purposes you could perhaps see being in similar circumstances in real life. The other is what can only be described as Calvin Cline model. Taller and older looking, his presence on screen with his two co-actors is as striking as a pensioner at a rave - and twice as embarrassingly uncomfortable. It's quite obvious he's the one going to be getting the most screen attention, and inevitably the girls. It's a rather cynical Hollywood convention that's sadly both predictable as it is shallow.
The Worse is yet to come however - now I realise that woman in these sort of comedies don't often feature too prominently, marginalised often at best. But here the bar is very much raised in a way so distasteful that it's almost nauseating. Portrayed as unintelligent and personality-lacking is one thing, buts it's another to imply woman are simply a means to an end - one that I don't think needs elaborating. Add to this almost random flashes of nudity and you have the rotten cherry on top of a very putrid cake. I've really got to applaud the film in that regard though, if it can make a mostly apathetic laid back guy take up near feminist views on character portrayal, then it really must excel in it's field.
But the biggest question of all - I found myself wondering; is who exactly is this film suppose to be aimed at? A juvenile story and overall stupidity would make you assume youngsters but with soft-core porn scenes, nudity and masturbation jokes you find yourself at a loss to it's target audience. If you really want a teen sex-based comedy then you have a whole list of better alternatives; Superbad, American Pie and Road Trip to name but a few - comedies that actually had some substance to them as well as being a lot more humorous. With those in mind this shouldn't even register a passing glance. Barely Legal was meant for no one it would seem, and conveniently enough that is exactly what I would recommend.
I thought that they should have kept the original title. National Lampoon's Barely Legal. I think that title would draw more box office attention to the movie.
There is a particularly funny part in the movie, with Vice Vieluf and a DDR game that made me chuckle. What I don't understand is why they took so long to release the movie in the US, after all it was made in 2003.
** National Lampoon's Barely Legal After School Special (2003) David M. Evans ~ Erik von Detten, Tony Denman, Daniel Farber, Sarah-Jane Potts