Behaving Badly
dir Tim Garrick
scr Tim Garrick, Scott Russell
prd Andrew Lazar, Miri Yoon
with Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Lachlan Buchanan, Mary-Louise Parker, Elisabeth Shue, Dylan McDermott, Heather Graham, Ashley Rickards, Mitch Hewer, Cary Elwes, Jason Lee, Patrick Warburton
release UK 9.Jun.14, US 1.Aug.14
14/US 1h37
Behaving Badly
Jailbait: Shue and Wolff

gomez parker mcdermott
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Behaving Badly A snappy pace almost distracts the audience from the idea vacuum at the centre of this comedy, which desperately wants to be rude and nasty but never quite musters up the nerve. There's some sharp writing along the way, but the filmmakers never create anything beyond a smattering of random jokes and pointless melodrama.

At home, 17-year-old Rick (Wolff) is juggling a drunken mom Lucy (Parker), deadbeat dad (Elwes), meathead brother (Hewer) and stripper sister (Rickards). Meanwhile, he a crush on Nina (Gomez), but ends up losing his virginity to his mother's best friend (Shue), who's also the mother of his best friend Billy (Buchanan). Still, he gets the nerve to ask Nina out, then scrambles to make it the perfect night, buying drugs for a strip-club manager (McDermott) before finding a dead mobster in his car and having the police raid a sex party in his home.

Yes, this is one of those rambunctious teen romps that wants to be Risky Business but feels compromised at every step. Despite a foul-mouthed sex obsession, the film is actually quite timid, indulging in the kind of broad comedy usually reserved for tired sitcoms. Wolff is good enough to create a believable character amid the otherwise cartoon figures. And the film almost works if it's read as a wild fantasy happening in his head.

It helps that skilled veterans fill out the margins. Parker overplays the inebriated Lucy but is more amusing as the vision of Lola, patron saint of horny teens. Shue and Graham (as Rick's lawyer) are hilarious as middle-aged sexbombs, while McDermott goes for broke as an oily fetish freak. Meanwhile, director Garrick hyperactively throws everything at the screen in the hope that something will stick.

While the script has some clever gags (Nina's parents are away at a pro-life gun expo), and lots of offensive ones (including a prison-rape joke), there's nothing to the plot. It's as if the movie was made by sniggering teen boys imagining what sex and drugs and romance are like, even though they have no idea. Oddly, the shamelessly cranked-up romance between Rick and Nina almost works, but only because Wolff and Gomez are the only actors who play it straight. On the other hand, the mushy sentiment in the final act is utterly undeserved.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, drugs 29.Jul.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall