Young and old are noticeably rattled when they hear how Bart got a room for prom. Unseen for the better part of this spineless teen comedy’s mercifully brief running time, the high schooler is a predicable freak show, all ginormous glasses perched atop an epically sloped nose that suggests a bird’s beak. Danny (Steven Kaplan), a more credible vision of insecure dweebness, is naturally horrified at the sight of him (has a movie ever been named after a less memorable character?), or maybe the horror on the kid’s face is entirely Kaplan’s own. The wafer-thin story, by writer-director Brian Hecker, piles cliché atop cliché as Danny tries to score a date for prom, and with anyone but his best friend Camille (Alia Shawkat). The conclusion, right down to Dad (William H. Macy) buying Danny a ho to take to prom, ranges from the transparent to the inexplicable, but nothing beats Hecker’s casual condescension for his characters in terms of insult. The setting is beachfront California, which Hecker shoots as a drably-colored wasteland of obscenely tanned and leathered bodies, all gross background extras in the perpetual humiliation that is Danny’s life. One scene, in which Danny tries to home in on a date via a passage read aloud by his teacher from a girl’s diary, feels recognizably human, a sincere grappling with the desperation of being a teen and hard up, but the rest of this banal, half-sketched cartoon consists largely of nasty knocks against the fat, old, and Asian, all of whom are framed in cramped compositions that suggest the influence of Simpsons animation cells and Ulrich Seidl. Props to Macy, though. Trapped beneath an unbecoming Jewfro, the actor makes his character’s cornily scripted eccentricity feel almost legit, escaping largely unscathed by sheer force of will.
- Anchor Bay Films
- 80 min
- Brian Hecker
- Brian Hecker
- Steven Kaplan, Alia Shawkat, Brandon Hardesty, Jennifer Tilly, Cheryl Hines, William H. Macy
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