J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Premature: Déjà vu High

Yes, what really is a Hoya, but Rob Crabbe might not get that. He is under extreme pressure from his alumni parents to get into Georgetown, but he keeps blowing the interview—and everything else he tries this very bad day—over and over again. For some cosmic reason, his high school angst fest keeps resetting whenever he can’t hold his horses, which happens pretty frequently in Dan Beers’ somewhat naughty high school genre comedy, Premature (trailer here), opening tonight at the IFC Center.

Crabbe is a diligent kid with all the right extracurriculars for a college application, but the wrong ones for impressing girls. He only has two real friends, the sex-obsessed Stanley, who seems to be on the cusp of graduating into a Kevin Smith movie and his conspicuously cute platonic girlfriend, Gabrielle. He also tutors a fake friend, Angela Yearwood (a.k.a. Afterschool Special), the school’s promiscuous hottie. Crabbe is to be interviewed by Georgetown alumnus Jack Roth, but he always starts off on an embarrassing foot, because of a bullying incident (by the volleyball team of all people). On the upside, Yearwood finally invites Crabbe over to her house for a tutoring session, which is where Crabbe’s cosmic Etch A Sketch usually gets cleared.

There is no denying the obvious: Premature is a fluid-obsessed teenage sex comedy co-written and directed by a guy named Beers. Tailor your expectations accordingly.  If perchance you are looking for some relentlessly shameless laughs, it aims to please. Beers and co-screenwriter Mathew Harawitz rather cleverly adapt the Groundhog Day concept to high school, finding fresh ways to make sex jokes, while still maintaining a relatively innocent heart.

As Krabbe, John Karna is clearly trying to be the next Jason Bateman, but he is way too low-key and reserved. You’d probably pick on him too, if you had the opportunity. However, Craig Roberts makes amends for walking around looking so sad-eyed and sensitive in the annoyingly precocious Submarine with his wonderfully foul-mouthed and energetic turn as best-bud Stanley. Katie Findlay also displays a winning screen presence as Gabrielle—almost to a problematic extent, far outshining the campus bombshell-temptress. Yet, perhaps the film’s MVP should go to Alan Tudyk as the wildly unstable Roth. Just as he did in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, he shows a real knack for creating outrageous characters that are still profoundly decent.

If you consider “juvenile humor” a term of derision than good luck with Premature. On the other hand, if you enjoy a good boob joke as much as the next horny adolescent than its time to stock up. Recommended for fans of films with the words “Pie” and “Lampoon” in the title, Premature opens tonight (7/2) in New York at the IFC Center.

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