A road trip whose goal, as voiced by a narrator named Dick, is “to take down as many hot-ass horned-up cougars as possible” seems like the type of sexist premise that turns crass clichés about women into easy profit. Surprisingly, Cougar Hunting isn’t yet another iteration of The Hangover school of misogyny-makes-the-man politics.
Tyler, a.k.a. Hymen (Matt Prokop), Tom (Jareb Dauplaise), and Dick (Randy Wayne), jaded by relationships with girls their own age and little economical opportunity in their home town, set out to Aspen, supposedly the mecca for sexually available older women with lots of money. They take a vow to only try to hook up with older women who can also be their sugar mamas. Yet Tyler can’t keep that vow, falling in love with a girl his own age and ditching his buddies to do, as the voiceover says, “all sorts of gay shit,” like allowing women to be more than talking blow-up dolls. The idea here is that somehow older women are too desperate to be proper gatekeepers of heterosexual men’s uncontrollable sexual appetite. A “real man,” unlike a “gay” one (as Ashton Kutcher, who profited off of his own cougar in Spread, might have it) would just be stupid not to take advantage of such easily accessible pussy when it comes attached to free money.
It’s clear that the exceptional hotness of the older woman, who would otherwise be an expired hag minding the children she better have had, is achieved through financial excess. The fact that not only is she so willing to put out, but will also foot the guys’ bill, is a double whammy. But in Cougar Hunting, a well-acted and well-directed film whose gross-out humor and homo-anxiety jokes feel more like satire than sanction, it’s the cougar who has the last laugh. Despite the guys’ foolish attempts at turning them into objects of their own fantasy, these women are actual people cursing, burping, outwitting, and outfucking the men, who are the ones left unsatisfied post-coitus and wishing to cuddle.
Dick may have a tattoo on his, um, dick that reads “contaminated,” but one of his cougars has one on her back that reads “filthy.” The mansion of Über Cougar (Vanessa Angel) in particular is a great sight, a quasi-feminist harem with a candle-lit S&M room and filled with gorgeous men in white robes who take turns fanning her, massaging her, teaching her yoga, and fucking her. Of course, the cougars’ ingenious refusal to her object status only goes so far. As the overly “lifted” faces of the actresses who play them (Lara Flynn Boyle must be seeing Melanie Griffith’s surgeon) suggests that even if the cougar manages to go from sex toy to sex player, not all damages can be undone.