About “Desperados,” the played-out sex farce Netflix wants to foist on the unknowing — don’t find yourself annoyed and muttering, as I am.
“Damn. I wish I had that 100 minutes back.”
You shouldn’t watch it just because SOMEbody thought it’d be cute to stage a sort of “New Girl” supporting players reunion (Nasim Pedrad, Lamorne Morris) as a glossy, foul-mouthed rom-com. The the universe was calling for that.
Just because Netflix figured the TV director who goes by “LP” (Lotsa Pretension?) was ready to make a feature film, after shooting episodes of the “Mr. Mom” TV series nobody watched and “Tacoma F.D.,” which, ‘Is that really a thing?”
Just because the screenwriter hasn’t had much luck since, oh, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” 15 years ago and the abortive feature “The Starlet,” and Netflix has this “Make Work for Mediocrities” program in place and uh, going strong.
But, you know, dildo falling out the purse, 30something woman mistaken for a pedophile attraction to a tweenage boy jokes never get old, right?
Pedrad stars as the most hapless of a trio of pals — high-strung and high-maintenance, over-sharing, sexually, in a job interview at a Catholic School (she wants to be a guidance counselor), lovelorn and DONE “being myself.” Wesley is ready to accept that “personality is an acquired taste.”
She’ll try that out on Jared (Robbie Amell), her knight in shining armor after a disastrous blind date gone bust, ending with a concussion.
It’s not like Brooke (Anna Camp), separated from her husband, single-mothering, has any reason to look down on Wesley’s “NOT being myself” strategy. And Kaylie (Sarah Burns) is so wrapped up in “my pregnancy journey” (She and hubby cannot conceive.) that she’s not judging Wesley, either.
Wesley’s so good at being “the perfect girl,” as in not-at-all-herself, that she and Jared connect. Until he goes five days without calling, and the three BFFs get drunk and drunk text a tirade to him that burns that bridge to the ground.
Only he’s been in a car wreck in Mexico, in a coma for a few days. No, he hasn’t been able to read his messages.
There’s nothing for it but to fly to Cabo San Lucas, break into Jared’s hotel room and erase that message before he can see it, in the manner of “Seinfeld” and several other comedies that have covered that ground first.
The running gag — Wesley’s stumbles into this kid (Toby Grey) who thinks she’s INTO him, with his mother (Jessica Chaffin) lighting her up as she cusses her out — is kind of funny, and the only place this wilted daisy of a farce feels edgy.
Whatever screenwriter Ellen Rapoport’s strong suit, vulgar gags aren’t it. Wesley is humped by a dolphin on a “swim with the dolphins” encounter, there’s an unfunny “naked and locked out of my (Jared’s) room” gambit, a bar pick-up scene where Brooke and a guy totally out of his league see how nasty they can get with the masturbation insults, all point to one lesson.
Shock value has no value if it’s not shockingly funny.
Meanwhile, Sean (Morris), who takes his “automatic out” (escape clause) from his one blind date with Wesley, keeps popping up and charmingly rolling with Wesley’s increasingly desperate, generally unfunny antics trying to get to Jared’s email before he gets released from the hospital.
There’s a little chemistry between Pedrad and Morris, not nearly enough to compensate for every tired obstacle (Mexican jail, anyone?) the script throws at Wesley and every weak witticism Rapoport gives her to say.
“I swear to GOD when I get OUT of here (Mexican jail) I’m going to TAKE this to social media!”
The film so focuses on these two that the other “Desperados” are shortchanged. As both Brooke and Kayleigh are destined to encounter Heather Graham, playing a guru running “The Heart Sanctuary,” a sort of ashram run by a “Goop wannabee,” that’s probably for the best.
Graham’s presence in a comedy often a dead giveaway that your sex farce isn’t going to be sexy or farcical.
Exercise your “automatic out,” avoid the desperation of all involved.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, sex, pedophilia jokes, near nudity, lots and lots of profanity
Cast: Nasim Pedrad, Lamorne Morris, Anna Camp, Sarah Burns, Robbie Amell, and Heather Graham.
Credits: Directed by LP, script by Ellen Rapoport. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:45