There was a time when comedy troupes had to earn their fame before setting off on a feature film adventure, running the gauntlet of obscurity before glory. Now all it takes is a mild acknowledgment of unity and the next thing you know, a terrible jokefest isn’t far behind. “Miss March” isn’t technically a Whitest Kids U’ Know motion picture, but it might as well be, showcasing filmmakers Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger as the latest obscure sketch comedy wizards to pull a movie out of their hindquarters. It seems I owe an apology to the Broken Lizard: guys, turns out you are no longer the worst unknown jesters to come around and bore mainstream audiences to tears. Hazzah.
It’s prom night for straight-laced Eugene (Zach Cregger), who promised his longtime girlfriend Cindi (Raquel Alessi) a night of carnal delights after years of preaching abstinence to young kids. At his side is loose cannon best friend Tucker (Trevor Moore), who eggs Eugene on to embrace his wild side. Instead of sex, the night ends with Eugene in a coma, and when he awakens four years later, he learns that Cindi is the current centerfold for Playboy. With Tucker dreaming of a party at the Playboy Mansion, the two take off on a wacky, slapstick heavy trek across the country to find Cindi and figure out just what went wrong with her morality.
I detested “Miss March,” and those sensitive to criticism of members of the Whitest Kids U’ Know should stop reading here. Of course, that’s acknowledging these guys have a sizable fanbase, which is hard to believe since ratings for the IFC Channel are only slightly better than your average public access broadcast of an elementary school bowling field trip.
Taking the no-budget cue from their cable show, Cregger and Moore are after a raunchy, take-no-prisoners tone with “Miss March,” trying to compete with the “American Pie” afterbirth that still stains multiplexes a decade later. Using the teen horndog Playboy mystique as a starter pistol, the film is nothing more than a series of tired gags that attempt to pronounce Cregger and Moore as the funniest guys u’ know. Who are these clowns? I have no idea, but the duo feels confident enough to act in, script, and direct the feature all by themselves. It’s a commendable bit of backstage ambition, yet there’s no appreciable talent to back it up, with “Miss March” instantly crumbling into a gross-out, formulaic, and humorless movie that’s devoid of a single redeeming quality.
Problems lie in the mean-spirited script, which makes fun of epileptics, rolls around in various fecal jokes (coming out of his coma, Eugene has no control of his bowels) and dog urine consumption gags, and seems to think a rap character named Horsedick.MPEG (played by bad penny Craig Robinson) is the most uproarious comedic idea around. They repeat the joke about 20 times. It’s not funny even once. The direction is flavorless, crude, and I would be shocked if the film spent over a single C-note in the budget department. And the acting? Well, Cregger needs some more time in straight-man class to make his uptight frustration act count, and I’d be thrilled if this was the last of Moore on the big screen. With his stringy hair and Shelley Duvall good looks, Moore broadly enunciates every punchline like a first time stand-up comedian, and his brittle voice always fails the moment. Joining Dan Fogler, Andrew Caldwell, Josh Gad, and Adam Herschman on the never-funny-guys-melting-ice-floe-to-obscurity, I wish Moore all the best, because another starring role with this guy, and I can’t promise everyone will make it out of the theater alive.
And here’s a fun fact: playing the title role, Alessi is never actually nude. Even the close-up of the character’s centerfold features the actress with an arm draped across her breasts, ya know, just like in the real Playboy! Cregger and Moore go completely out of their way to create a rude, crude comedy, and they couldn’t cast an actress who would take her clothes off for a role that requires it? Boy, Alessi must have one heck of an agent. I think Hugh Hefner, who shows up in a creaky last act cameo, shows more skin.
Oh, there are beer-bottle-penetrative lesbians to titillate less demanding filmgoers, along with more poop jokes, bug-eyed reactions, and genital mutilation sight gags to help sell the diseased and witless madcap vision Cregger and Moore are pursuing. Juvenile, dollar-store comedies like “Miss March” fail all the time (“Sex Drive” and “Fired Up!” being two recent examples), but only the rare one breaks past all the natural defense mechanisms and burrows violently into the brain. Without a Friedberg/Seltzer offering this year (fingers crossed), I can wholeheartedly declare “Miss March” as the worst film of 2009.