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Thursday, February 12, 2015

NOT COOL -- Movie Review by Porfle

I didn't have the same vehemently negative reaction to NOT COOL (2014) as one of its erstwhile producers, STAR TREK's Zachary Quinto. Anger and indignance toward its very existence were his main feelings after viewing the finished product, from which he had his name removed. All I felt during most of this raunchy teen comedy's running time were boredom and indifference.

As seen in the Starz reality series "The Chair", a single script by writer Dan Schoffer was turned into two very different movies simultaneously by first-time directors Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci (hers was titled HOLLIDAYSBURG), then voted upon by an audience to determine who would win a cash prize of $250,000.

It should come as no surprise to longtime fans of Dawson's raucous YouTube videos that Martemucci's semi-chick-flick take on the story turned out to be positively sedate compared to his frenzied interpretation, which is a no-holds-barred explosion of tasteless gross-out humor that leaves no graphic vomit, fart, dick, poop, or sex joke unexploited.

While that's not really all that new (I mean, PORKY'S) and I actually like several comedies that could be termed "gross-out" (NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE is a personal fave), Dawson is saddled with an added element he's never had to deal with before on YouTube--heart.

NOT COOL is, beneath its oil-slick veneer of utter crudeness, a touchy-feely love story in which we're actually supposed to care about these cartoony characters, which we don't. It's like watching ANIMAL HOUSE and suddenly being asked to get in touch with Bluto's inner loneliness and inability to form a lasting love-bond with Mandy Pepperidge. The two sensibilities not only clash, but detract from each other as well.

The story begins with former high school prom king Scott (played by Dawson) getting blown through a "glory hole" in a public restroom stall by his caricature of a slutty girlfriend Heather after returning from college to his hometown for Thanksgiving. Heather picks this moment to break up with him, after which Scott cute-meets and then falls in love with former classmate Tori (Cherami Leigh), whom he had previously ignored. Unconvincing romantic complications ensue.

Meanwhile, Scott's sister Janie (Michelle Veintimilla) is being cute-stalked by the virginal Joel (Drew Monson), a lovesick employee in her dad's record store, with his desperate attempts to win her over growing more outlandish by the minute. This subplot also suffers from the schizo juxtaposition of blatantly farcical elements with a slathering of insincere warmth that's supposed to make us smile even as we wince in disgust.

In the midst of all this, we're treated to the sight of a homeless guy eating his own feces, Tori getting a rancid faceful of barf at a party, the same homeless guy guzzling his own freshly-squeezed urine from a Dixie cup, Scott taking a dump on Heather's lawn, an extreme close-up of the homeless guy's jiggling junk, and other similar expressions of Dawson's manic desire to shock and offend us into gales of mindless laughter.

The film is capably directed but has the candy-coated veneer of a made-for-TV teen movie. The cast of relative unknowns do their best with their shallow characters, with one of the most enthusiastic performances turned in by Dawson's real-life girlfriend Lisa Schwartz as Tori's "Miss Perfect" (but comically blind) sister Marissa. As Scott, Dawson himself struggles with a tendency to be overly cute at times, while coming off as rather grating in his various drag cameos.

Needless to say, NOT COOL will probably succeed with certain audiences--Shane Dawson's YouTube fans should eat this up with a spoon, and the DVD may prove popular at frat parties with plenty of beer and weed floating around. But before Dawson gets another shot at directing a movie, he may have to make a serious effort to mature beyond making feature-length YouTube videos. I like a good gross-out comedy myself, but--unlike the angry and deeply offended Zachary Quinto--I just found NOT COOL to be drab, joyless, and utterly unexceptional.

Buy it at

Read our review of HOLLIDAYSBURG
Read our review of THE CHAIR


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