When it was announced in the trades that funny ladies Amy Poehler, Parker Posey and Rachel Dratch would be co-starring in a comedy about thirtysomething women going on spring break, I’ll admit, I got excited by the comic possibilities.
That was three years ago.
Since production wrapped in 2006, Spring Breakdown’s been sitting on Warner Brothers’ shelves far from any spring, summer – hell, even winter – light of day. To the Daily Variety crowd, this type of delay usually means creative breakdown, and since I position myself somewhere in this grouping, I was a bit wary of reviewing the likely disaster-piece upon its DTV release. So, I recruited my friend X-Tina (code name) to watch with me, since her excitement for the talent involved and ignorance about its delayed release saga helped renew my enthusiasm for Breakdown’s basic comic elements.
Okay, so the movie starts out kind of genius, with the leads performing The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” in earnest at their characters’ 1992 college talent show. While the college crowd doesn’t appreciate the performance, it gave X-Tina and me a serious case of “WTF” giggles. We were off to a good start. Then we get into the set-up: Posey’s a put-upon assistant to a high-powered US Senator (Jane Lynch); Poehler’s a trainer of seeing-eye dogs whose blind client (Will Arnett) has just romantically rejected her; and Dratch is a woman engaged to a barely closeted gay man (Seth Meyers) with an annoying habit of abbreviating words and phrases. The actresses are all amusing in their opening moments and it’s a kick watching Lynch, Arnett and Meyers pop up unexpectedly in an already fully loaded comedic cast. By the time Posey’s recruited her friends to join her on assignment watching over Lynch’s spring-breaking daughter, the movie’s got a good comic buzz going.
But like any spring break vacation packed with too much partying, it doesn’t take long for the creative hangover to kick in. Repetitive scenes of the girls drinking heavily and salsa wrestling probably sounded funnier on paper than they do in execution. To the film’s disadvantage, Posey’s stuck playing the wan straight girl, when the spring break setting should have been an excuse to amp up her naturally manic energy. Poehler’s character, meanwhile, gets caught up in residual college peer pressure and tries to join a clique of popular blondes called “The Sevens,” named after the once hip (back in ’06) branded jean line. The funny thing about Poehler – well, make that unfunny – is that the more popular she gets, the more hip hop/white trash she becomes (a choice that didn’t pay off in the execrable Baby Momma either). Rachel Dratch fares best in her storyline, in which she plays a repressed almost-housewife lusting after a hot college boy. Dratch is goofy and unhinged in all the right ways. Unfortunately, Dratch is also to blame for the movie’s weakest element: its uneven script, which she apparently helped co-write (perhaps after a few too many beer bongs or bong hits).
All that said, the movie does end on a sublimely ridiculous note recalling the film’s opening. In the final scene, the three leads, plus their newfound spring break friends, join together on stage for a hilariously straight faced rendition of Wilson Phillip’s “Hold On.” Seriously, I might recommend the movie on the basis of its opening and closing scenes alone.
Film is presented in a colorful, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Audio options include English and French 5.1 Dolby Surround. Subtitles options English, French and Spanish.
Extras include a commentary by Director Ryan Shiraki and Rachel Dratch; additional scenes, which play more like additional moments; and, finally, a Gag Reel that hints how much funnier a movie about the making of Breakdown might have been than the finished product.
Spring break season has come and gone, but if you’re looking for mindless fun this summer, Spring Breakdown should amuse – although you might want to do a keg stand first to ease the pain of some of its unfunnier moments.
Spring Breakdown is rated R for crude humor and sexual references. It has a run time of 84 minutes.