If you’ve followed my reviews here on Flixist, you’ll realize that I’m particularly drawn to smaller VOD projects in between the big releases for any bevy of reasons. Whether it’s because it features pretty ladies, pretty gentleman, or pretty rocks, I like taking gambles and possibly stumbling on something great that I would’ve missed otherwise.
Unfortunately, sometimes I gamble and lose. I wanted to review Behaving Badly because it stars a few people I’m interested in, and figured they’d never intentionally choose something awful for themselves. Boy, was I wrong.
Director: Tim Garrick
Release Date: August 1, 2014 (Theatrically and VOD)
Based on the Ric Browde novel, While I’m Dead….Feed the Dog, Behaving Badly is the story of Rick Stevens (Nat Wolff), a teen who’s caught in a chain of precarious situations. His mom’s an alcoholic (Mary Louise-Parker), his brother’s a meathead, his sister’s a genius stripper (Ashley Rickards), his father’s a cheater, his best friend is weird, and his best friend’s mom (Elizabeth Shue) constantly wants to sleep with him. All the while, Rick just wants to go out with the girl of his dreams, Nina (Selena Gomez), and keep the Lithuanian mafia off his back.
If there’s one thing I can’t fault Badly for, it’s certainly trying its best to accomplish something. It’s so packed with ideas and quirks that we’d have some sort of coherent narrative if just one of those quirks were elaborated on. But as it stands, it’s like Badly threw one of those 25 cent sticky hands at a wall hoping it’d stick, only to watch it slowly cascade down and gather all sorts of crud on the way. And when it falls, the film just throws the hand back at a different side of the wall hoping it’d stick better without changing hands. It’s just the repeated notion of tossing out a poorly thought out idea, watching it fail, and retrying with that same idea and watching it fail again but with different characters in tow.
It’s hard to completely critique Behaving Badly because I don’t really know where most of the fault lies. Usually when I have problems with a film, I can pinpoint flaws and attribute them to one or two key areas, but it seems Behaving Badly‘s core wrecks everything else. With a faulty screenplay dampening the characters, I can’t fault certain actors for wonky performances when everything is falling apart around them. In fact, I sort of want to praise their tenacity. Elizabeth Shue wonderfully cheeses the screen as this sexual deviant, and because she knows the role is terrible, she doesn’t seem to give a damn about how she looks while doing it. It’s a wonder to see. It’s like watching the captain dance as the boat sinks. You know it’s a terrible situation for everyone, but you just want to watch them celebrate doom.
The same goes for Mary Louise-Parker who gives her dual roles her patented trashy vixen finesse. One of the few good ideas Badly has in its repertoire is the “Saint of Teen Angst.” It’s certainly a neat idea that the main kid would hallucinate someone who’d be able to help him in his terribly depressing life, but it’s probably a plot better suited for the novel. In the film, the Saint is a bookend more than anything. It’s just a reminder of the poor execution plaguing the rest of the film. Even if you’re a bigger fan of raunchy teen comedies than I am, you’ll find little of worth here. There’s a bit of nostalgia in its twisted delivery, as the main character talks to the audience directly numerous times, but the raunch is debilitating rather than be a clever flip of those old teen film tropes. Once again, it’s all in the core execution.
Behaving Badly could’ve been good. It’s got a neat idea (give a kid a depressing life but have him be completely oblivious to it), but is unfortunately smothered by bad choices. There’s just so much going on at any particular moment, it’s hard to grasp why any of it is necessary. And when you can’t grasp any of the importance (or humor, really) of any of scenes, the whole thing melts together into a bubbling flesh pot of semen, bad jokes, Selena Gomez, random boobs, and STDs.
Behaving Badly should’ve behaved good-ly.