Tasteless 'Eurotrip' Doesn't Travel Well

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 20, 2004

If you're going to make a gross-out comedy you can't just be gross. You've got to be to be funny as well, or the movie will be DOA.

Which is why "Eurotrip" should be toe-tagged and shoved into the deepest and coldest of video vaults. An uninspired and cheesy attempt to reprise the camaraderie and bawdy spirit of films like "Road Trip" or "American Pie," it's one prolonged torture session in the flickering darkness. There are jails in Guatemala resonating with more chuckles than this.

This movie's only dramatic dilemma is this: Should you cringe first at its painful mediocrity or the story's half-baked tastelessness? Some other things you might mull over while sitting through "Eurotrip": Are you close enough to the aisle to escape without attention? Have you called your dentist lately for a cleaning? What is the sound of one hand not clapping?

Scotty Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz) has been exchanging enjoyable e-mail messages with a German pen pal for years. Amazingly, he's never found out that "Mike" -- as he calls his Berlin pal -- is not a guy but a gal. Her name is Mieke, which doesn't sound or even look like Mike. After corresponding with someone for years, he doesn't know the person's gender? Audience, meet your central character.

When Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) sends a come-hither message to Scotty, he panics. Assuming this was a gay overture, he tells her never to message him again. Too late, he discovers Mieke's true identity -- I've already forgotten how -- and realizes she may be the girl of his dreams. But she's so upset, she has e-blocked him for good. He decides to fly to Berlin to make amends and win her back.

His best friend, Cooper (Jacob Pitts), comes along for the ride. And two other friends planning to go to Europe -- twins Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Jamie (Travis Wester) -- promise to meet up.

Unable to afford a flight, Scotty and Cooper sign up as air couriers. This takes them to London, where they run into a group of unruly Manchester United soccer hooligans, led by English screen heavy Vinnie Jones, who has fallen a long way since his memorable appearances in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch."

(Pardon me for being a soccer fan, but why would a group of fans from a northern English region speak in London-area accents, unless they were the so-called Cockney Red variety of Man U. fan? And why would they be wearing shirts that bear no resemblance to their club colors? Just curious.)

After an embarrassing run-through of every held cliche about "soccer hooligans," the "story" takes us to the Continent, where our foursome, now reunited, burn an Ugly American path through Europe. Debuting director Jeff Schaffer and writers Alec Berg and David Mandel -- the three coughed up the hairball that became "The Cat in the Hat" -- are clearly trying to offend every European on the planet with all the stereotypes they can muster. This could be deliciously funny in the hands of a greater trio.

If you want to use stereotypes, the filmmakers display the imagination of, say, middle-school rednecks throwing beer bottles in a 7-Eleven parking lot. Thus, our friends run afoul of an S&M sex club in Amsterdam, trudge through trash-filled streets in Eastern Europe and encounter a German boy sporting a painted Hitler mustache in Berlin. And in Rome (where Scotty is pursuing the ever-elusive Mieke), they run riot inside the Vatican, during which time Scotty accidentally pulls the bell that is supposed to signal the demise of the pope. And the less said about a Matt Damon cameo, the better. Funny? Too bad someone already used the title "Dumb & Dumberer."

Eurotrip (92 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for sexuality, nudity, obscenity and drug and alcohol use.

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