How To Get Girls

In this day and age, teen sex comedies are the white-hot, third rail of cinema. Back in their  heyday in the Reagan years of the 1980s, the “classics” of the genre were a case study in rather repugnant men-children doing their damndest to get laid while heavily trafficking in racial stereotypes, misogyny, and grade school humor that, by contemporary morarys, are — to quote a term of that era — just grody to the max (e.g. Porkies, Losin’ It, Last American Virgin). Of late, only the deftest of filmmakers have been able to thread the comedic needle of this genre (Superbad, Juno.) In Omri Dorani and Zach Fox’s new flick How to Get Girls, the directors try their hand at walking this slippery tightrope. Yet, despite a handful established stars in the cast, the addition of comic-con as a contemporary plot device, and a few clever jokes scattered throughout the picture, the whole affair is an unwelcome and icky flashback to filmic time best tossed into the dustbin of movie history like a pair of old acid washed jeans.

“…obsessed with getting their comic into the hands of Stan Lee and jerking off in tandem to scantily clad anime girls.”

The plot centers around Zach (writer/director Zach Fox) and his childhood friend Ben (Martin Cervantez) who, as randy/dorky early teenagers, are obsessed with (1) getting their homemade comic into the hands of Marvel legend Stan  Lee at their local Comicon and (2) jerking off in tandem to scantily clad anime girls. (Gross, just gross). With little warning, Ben’s gruff military dad is relocated to Antarctica, leaving Zach alone to deal with both his dysfunctional family (featuring the perennial box-office-poison that is Chris Kattan as his dad and Danna Friedberg as his funny/manipulative sister Marissa) and the horrors of high school. For Zach, high school is a trial of daily humiliations, the most vexing of which is apparently that he remains a virgin while every other guy is “getting some.” His only friend, it seems, is his overweight Irish classmate — effectively playing a red-headed version of Pretty in Pink’s Long Duck Dong. Zach’s shame is made all the more public when his lack of success with the ladies is posted in the stall of fame, a scoreboard of sorts in the boys bathroom where each of the male student’s conquests (or lack thereof) are tallied up for all to see. For reasons I cannot fathom, talented comedic actors David Koechner (Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy) and Chris Elliott (Cabin Boy) turn in appearances as — respectively — a developmentally arrested principal who parties with his students and a tortured English/theater teacher. But I digress.

After five years away, Ben returns to town. Apparently, base life in Antarctica must have come with a compulsory gym membership as Ben is now a tall, buff, bonafide hottie. Oddly, puberty seems to have missed a step in that he is totally uninterested girls while remaining fixated upon his earlier childhood dream of getting into Comicon. Zach, however, sees his newly returned chick magnet friend as his meal ticket to “get some pussy.” Cue the transformation scene and, before you can say Clueless, Ben and a newly coiffed/attired Zach are making the rounds on the local high school party circuit on the path to their Valhalla of teen gatherings: blonde alpha girl Kimberly Summer’s vaunted pool party. Yet, despite Zach’s constant hectoring, all Ben wants is to fulfill his childhood dream of making it into Comicon. Will Zach abandon his longtime friend in his quest to get laid? Will Stan Lee actually make an appearance in this low budget American Pie ripoff? And is that actually dag-nasty porn star Ron Jeremy making an appearance at a teen pool party? (Ew.)

“…I needed to take a shower after sitting through all 93 minutes of this flick…”

While genuinely funny at parts, I felt like I needed to take a shower after sitting through all 93 minutes of this flick, even with its reach-for-redemption final act. Unfortunately, the writers/directors decided to make the ill fated choice to cast all the young women/girls in the film as (1) stalker-y would-be paramours, (2) half nekkid lipstick lesbians in full make-out mode, and (3) ice-cold untouchables to be manipulated into bed. Apparently, character development for anyone without a penis exceeded Dorani/Fox’s scripting superpowers. In one hopeful scene, though, the filmmakers did try to subvert things a when one of Zach’s would be conquests turns the tables on him by convincing him to don lingerie/tuck in his junk. But even this joke lands with a faintly homophobic thud.   

The young filmmaker’s obviously have some creative chops in that they are able to construct a cohesive narrative featuring some fine art direction/anime, ensuring that it moves along at a good clip. One wishes, however, that they had violated that old film school dictum of “writing what you know” — in this case, high school — and instead turned their creative energies elsewhere, say to the horror or suspense genres. Really anything that would either that would ensure that I never, ever have to see Ron Jeremy’s name appear in credits again. Now for that shower.  

How to Get Girls (2017) Written and directed by Omri Dorani and Zach Fox. Starring Zach Fox, Martin Cervantez, Chris Elliott, Chris Kattan, David Koechner, and Kate Flannery.

3 out of 10 stars

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