Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore amplify the raunchiness throughout Miss March, their crack at a sex comedy. Yet a wide-eyed sweetness engulfs the vulgarity. Absent scenes of sudden bowel movements and exposed breasts, and the involvement of Playboy, one could be forgiven for mistaking the picture for a PG family comedy about small town guys on a big city adventure.
Cregger and Moore, the writers, directors and stars, are two of the five members of The Whitest Kids U’ Know troupe currently appearing in the third season of its IFC show. In this, their debut at the helm of a motion picture, the sardonic intelligence imbued in their sketch comedy work gets largely overshadowed by the bland filler between the scatological gags. Too much of the film consists of predictable, thin banter between archetypal characters designed without enough innovation.
Eugene Bell (Cregger) is a high school senior perfectly content to remain a virgin until marriage, despite having a seriously hot girlfriend named Cindi (Raquel Alessi) and a sex obsessed best friend in Tucker Cleigh (Moore). As prom rolls around Cindi starts having second thoughts about their shared vow of abstinence and convinces Eugene to meet her upstairs at an after party. After some pre-coitus imbibing sends Eugene spiraling down a wooden staircase he wakes up four years later from a coma to discover Tucker is still Tucker but Cindi’s run off to Hollywood and become a Playmate.
The characters hastily decide to make things right, and launch a cross country journey to find Cindi at one of the Playboy Mansion’s patented parties. This leads to a lot of long, slow scenes in which the filmmakers give themselves little to do beyond playing up the characters’ single dimensions. Eugene is impossibly sincere and prude; Cregger plays him with an immobile look of earnest shock. Tucker, on the other hands, comes across as a low-grade version of Jim Carrey at his most manic. To his portrayal Moore adds little in the way of nuance, and he often seems more interested in affecting the particular personality than playing an actual human.
The comedy comes in bite sized bits, provided by the surrealistic phenomenon of firemen chasing our heroes, for reasons too impossibly convoluted to describe here, Tucker’s inability to do anything right and the repeated indignities forced on Eugene. One must give credit where credit’s due, and there’s no denying that in the powerful, cacophonic bursts of excrement that pour out of Eugene at random times the filmmakers have actually conceived a funny shit gag. A few of these other interspersed comic moments work too, but in the fashion of a brief sketch independent from the surrounding detail, not in the service of a cogent feature film.
The single satiric concept to be gleaned from Miss March is one that in its practical application seems impossibly dated. Tucker lives and breathes by Playboy; it informs his world view, fundamentally impacts his interactions with the opposite sex and becomes the golden standard by which all of life is to be judged. Had the film been made in the 1980s, when the genre came into its own, the idea would likely have seemed topical and smart. Before the Internet Playboy was a primary trigger of teenage fantasies. Many a horny youngster spent happy moments, um, reading its articles. Now, among the youth that once held it on a pedestal Playboy is probably best known as the place Bridget, Holly and Kendra (and now the current girlfriends) go to work when not paling around with that weird old man on camera during The Girls Next Door. In the age of Internet porn the magazine seems positively wholesome, which adds to the strangely sanitized feel that engulfs the film.
The number one conclusion to be drawn from Miss March is this: someone needs to give Craig Robinson his own movie. As the hilariously named rapper Horsedick.MPEG he chews scenery with an inspired, wicked gusto the likes of which Moore can’t even begin to match. After providing an endless highlight reel during his appearances on The Office and indelibly impacting some of the bigger comedies of the past few years, he’s long past due for a lead. If Miss March helps him get that starring role the movie will have been anything but a wash.