“Sundown” is less a film than a feature-length tourism ad for a Mexican vacation. Dubious intentions aside, the film is riddled with bad jokes, lazy ethnic stereotyping and a recycled plot. Although largely shot in Mexico, the film’s unflattering portrayal of that country’s citizens makes one wonder why the Mexican government would provide the filmmakers with a tax incentive, as the opening credits proudly boast.
High-school senior Logan (Devon Werkheiser) is an aspiring DJ. His best friend Blake (Sean Marquette) wants to start a “Girls Gone Wild”-style website. Over spring break, the two saps follow Logan’s crush (Sara Paxton) to Puerto Vallarta, where — barely off the plane — they fall victim to one scam after another. For puzzling reasons, the Mexican scammers eventually decide to help Logan and Blake, so together they decide to wage war against a local gangster who has ripped them all off.
Director Fernando Lebrija, who wrote the script with Miguel Tejada-Flores, attempts to find humor with Logan and Blake’s bad behavior. The problem is they’re nothing but hormone-driven losers with two modes: sexual objectification and varying degrees of racism. In one ugly scene, Blake awakes after a night of debauchery with a nasty streak of trans-phobia. A long cock-fighting sequence invites us to celebrate animal cruelty.
The stars play their roles with energy, which makes the slapdash film that much more embarrassing — for them. “Sundown” features cameos from real-life club DJs Paul Oakenfold and Steve Aoki, yet the novelty of their casting suggests that the real reason for the film is to buttress Puerto Vallarta’s growing reputation as party central for privileged young American travelers.
Puerto Vallarta is where authorities recently detained Ethan Couch, whose attorneys used an “affluenza” defense after a drunken-driving crash left four people dead. Couch has a lot in common with Logan and Blake, and not just because those characters go on a reckless car chase. Absent any self-awareness by its protagonists, the best thing about “Sundown” is that it’s too dumb to be offensive.
R. At AMC Hoffman Center 22. Contains crude language, violence, nudity, and sexual situations, all involving teenagers. 104 minutes.