“Stoner comedies” is one of those genre niches Netflix has been throwing money and titles at ever since the streaming service — which has price-hiked its way out of the skyrocketing subscriber growth that finances such whims — began making its own movies.
Teen films, horror, rom-coms, Spanish language fare and the occasional “let’s get baked and watch these dudes get baked” is a “let’s fling these at the wall and see what sticks” approach to a release slate. But as “The Package” proved, and “Dude” and “Game Over, Man” almost did, there’s an audience for this.
“Take the 10” is a rowdy, random and not-nearly-raunchy-enough misfire in that regard, a buddy picture with stolen money from work, stolen concert tickets, stolen drugs and one guy’s dream of flying off to Brazil and getting into the healthy rainforest nuts export business.
Writer-director and supporting player Chester Tam wisely hangs half the picture on Tony Revolori, whose humorous haplessness graced “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and not-so-wisely gave another shot to Josh Peck, something of a perma-grinning kiss of death to films from “The Wackness” to “Red Dawn.”
The ex-child-star Peck can’t make banter about where the “acting” kicks in for Chloe Sevigny in that infamous “Brown Bunny” BJ scene funny, can’t pull off the “lady killer” vibe his character Chris is supposed to be, and isn’t even that convincing as a pitiless pilferer whose assorted acts of thievery drive the “plot” to this “valley” to Joshua Tree romp.
Chester (Revolori) is allegedly the “sensible one,” the smart one, the guy who lectures Chris “Get your car out of the impound, grow up, get a life.”
But over the course of this hellishly short (kind of like the movie) weekend, Chester falls for a Craigslist creep (Carlos Alazraqui) who doesn’t really want to buy his “vintage” ’97 Corolla, just force him to take the wheel for a drive-by he’s arranged. Chester is caught stealing from the Wholesome Foods where he and Chris work. Chester says he’s done “all this research” on the natural grains and nuts they sell at the store and figures, with no money, no connections, no skills and no Portuguese (he’s listening to tapes), he can leap right into that export business in Brazil and make a mint off hipsters who frequent stores like Wholesome Foods.
Chris steals concert tickets from his ticket-counterfeiting older brother (Andy Samberg), swaps them with a Craigslist ticket seller who turns out to be a tattooed drug dealer (writer-director Tam) whose girlfriend (Cleopatra Coleman) has figured out his sexuality, even if he hasn’t.
Chris acts on impulse, Chester plans. They’re both idiots, but they figure they’d be lost without each other, which is why Chris tells Chester he’ll join him for the flight to Brazil AFTER they go to this concert on counterfeit tickets.
“‘Brazilian” is my favorite porn search word, before ‘drunk’ and ‘amateur!'”
A funnier actor might have made that line sing.
The lads have crude, coarse, chats about sex in front of Wholesome customers, flinch at the threats of their crooked, corrupt manager (Kevin Corrigan, letting himself go) and in a series of timeline resets, show us how they get to the point where they’re being chased through Joshua Tree and getting shot at in the film’s opening moments.
Chris Rock’s younger brother Jordan shows up, and Fred Armisen of “Portlandia,” and pretty much nobody else funny.
“Random” is how this was pitched, I am guessing. “I can get Andy Samberg for one scene, two sets, playing ‘Rock Band’ with the family maid.” And “Fred Armisen says he’ll play a douche in a Bentley in traffic for one scene.”
Corrigan takes his shirt off and smart-mouths the cops about his criminal behavior, and that of his employees.
“I’m color blind when it comes to stereotypes.”
But the picture hangs on that central buddy pairing, and it just doesn’t click.
“When did you start smoking?”
“Since I decided to change things up. It was either this, or Scientology — and I can’t wear maritime style uniforms.”
Yeah, it’s like that. Eighty minutes never seemed so long or so wasted.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, drug abuse, brief glimpses of porn, profanity
Cast: Josh Peck, Tony Revolori, Kevin Corrigan, Chester Tam, Stella Maeve, Cleopatra Coleman
Credits: Written and directed by Chester Tam. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:20