J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sundown: Gringos on Spring Break

Puerto Vallarta is a major tourist destination, but the State Department has imposed considerable travel restrictions on U.S. government personnel within the surrounding state of Jalisco. Unfortunately, two obnoxious American teenagers (who look like they are pushing thirty) manage to blunder about completely unharmed. Perhaps Mexico should consider supporting Donald Trump’s border wall given the shallow horniness of Fernando Lebrija’s Sundown (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Logan is supposed to prove to his parents he can be responsible while they are off on a cruise, but his best bud Blake convinces him to dash down to Puerto Vallarta instead. Since they know his longtime crush will also be partying down there with her friends, he also cajoles Logan into wearing his father’s passed-down-for-generations Rolex to impress her. Right what could go wrong, besides everything, starting with their hotel reservation.

Since fancies himself the next “Girls Gone Wild”-style media mogul, he is constantly recording jiggle shots on his cell phone. Evidently, the whole “safe space” trend bypassed Mexico, because when Blake accidentally sleeps with a transsexual, it is played for laughs like it’s the 1970s. Logan fares somewhat better with Gaby, the bombshell hooker with a heart of gold, who is forced to appropriate the conspicuously Macguffiny Rolex in lieu of payment, after she roofied the idiot. At least she will help the lads get it back from her weirdly flamboyant pimp, along with Chuy, the aggressively-annoying, compulsively angle-working cabbie who becomes their constantly mugging constant companion.

So there you have it. Yet, Sundown still has a claim to cool, because Logan’s techno DJ heroes Steve Aoki and Paul Oakenfold briefly play themselves. Evidently there is quite the vital club scene in Puerto. However, do not expect to find your personal off-the-books driver like Chuy. Travel authorities recommended tourists only take officially regulated “sitio” taxis.

As Gaby, Camilla Belle (who was something else in American Side) does her best to keep Sundown afloat, but she is fighting a losing battle. Devon Werkheiser doesn’t give her much support, but his portrayal of Logan is mostly inoffensive. However, Sean Marquette is like fingernails on the blackboard as the icky, shticky, forty-something looking Blake. Silverio Palacios is hardly any more dignified as the bug-eyed and occasionally naked Chuy. Still, it is somewhat amusing to see Terri Hatcher and Christopher Guest-regular John Michael Higgins as Logan’s parents.

Sundown is the sort of film that could convince both countries “good fences makes good neighbors,” to quote Robert Frost quoting his own rustic neighbor. Yet, it might also be somewhat dangerous, giving easily misled Millennials a false sense of security with respects to the back alleys of Puerto, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Regardless, Sundown is not recommended when it opens today (5/13) in New York, at the AMC Empire.

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