Behaving Badly begins with Rick Stevens (Nat Wolff) explaining that everyone in the story he’s about to narrate is guilty of something—except, that is, for pious straight-A student Nina Pennington (Selena Gomez). A paragon of virtue, she naturally entices Rick, who’s saddled with an alcoholic mother (Mary-Louise Parker), a sexual weirdo for a father (Cary Elwes), and a stripper for a sister (Ashley Rickards). Like most movie teens, Rick is prepossessed by sex and drugs, though he’s uniquely wracked with a sense of slow-burning Catholic guilt. After making a bet with a mobster’s son that he can score with Nina by week’s end, the bawdy Patron Saint of Teenagers (also played by Parker) who appears to him in visions forces him to confront his sinful failings, as in bedding his best friend’s mother (Elisabeth Shue). Eventually he recognizes Nina not simply as a girl with whom he wants to hook up, but one who can save his wayward soul in a den of adult iniquity where the school principal (Patrick Warburton) peeps into the girl’s locker room and the local priest (Jason Lee) has foregone his vow of clerical celibacy and is in league with the Lithuanian mafia. All this impressing of matters of faith upon a generally secular genre is the foundation of an interesting idea, but it’s frustratingly canceled out by director Tim Garrick’s decision to fall back on the trappings of the film’s innumerable teenage gross-out forefathers with tiresome vulgarity and rote misunderstandings in place of genuine insight. Rick’s ultimate journey becomes less about atonement than simply getting the girl, and moral reclamation reveals itself as the vehicle by which to peddle a bunch of people behaving badly.
- Vertical Entertainment
- 98 min
- Tim Garrick
- Tim Garrick, Scott Russell
- Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Mary-Louise Parker, Elisabeth Shue, Dylan McDermott, Heather Graham, Ashley Rickards, Cary Elwes, Patrick Warburton, Jason Lee
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