Todd Verow’s overextended Vacationland begins with a cute piece of pre-collegiate jailbait lamenting the banality of Maine’s boonies, lying to his sister about how blood got onto their house phone. He says the man next door asked to use it after a failed murder-suicide, but the truth is colorful enough: their mother’s boyfriend smacked her across the head with it during a fight. One hundred and four minutes later, Joe (Brad Hallowell) will have kissed his ostensibly straight best bud, Andrew (Gregory J. Lucas), on the mouth while the football jock is passed out on his bed, seduced his French teacher (Nathan Johnson) inside a mall bathroom for a passing grade and college recommendation, taken a job as a kept boy for a decrepit artist (Charles Ard) who entertains suicide, and won a go-go boy contest at a club where he crosses paths with the man who raped him as a child, which is to say nothing of his connection to a gay bashing and attempted murder. The film aspires to the splendor of The Living End and Totally F***ed Up, stuffed as it is with every queer small-town cliché the movies have ever seen, but Verow’s passion and talent, unlike Gregg Araki’s, is not equal to his ambition. The director is casually inattentive, insufficiently nourishing plot and character alike. Most starved is the nature of Joe’s creative aspirations and his knowledge of Andrew’s homosexuality: The fact that Joe is gay is apparently enough to justify his wanting to go to art school (perhaps the Rhode Island school he applies to offers a major in Fibbing), and the ecstasy of what appears to be his first mutually conscious make-out session with Andrew is compromised by a quickly abandoned subplot about Andrew’s girlfriend threatening to out him if she doesn’t stay with him. Purpose, form, and function are in near-perfect sync throughout most of Araki’s films, like the stars in the sky the characters often look up to, but this drab, unimaginatively staged, and peculiarly performed film is totally out of whack.
- 104 min
- Todd Verow
- Todd Verow
- Brad Hallowell, Gregory J. Lucas, Jennifer Stackpole, Mindy Hofman, Charles Ard, Theodore Bouloukos, Michael John Dion, Hilary Mann, Nathan Johnson, Jennifer Mallett, Gregg Anderson
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