“Boys vs. Girls” is an homage to those wacky/edgy kids summer camp comedies of yore, a “Meatballs” for a new generation…or rather it might be if it hadn’t been such a limp biscuit.
It’s a period piece send-up of such films with barely a laugh in it. “Edgy?” It’s “DeGrassi” with menstruation jokes.
It starts with a hint of promise, but never gets out of the gate.
The one chuckle I had was in the outtakes under the credits, and what do we say about outtakes in most comedies, kids? That they’re almost always a sign of comic desperation.
Camp Kindlewood has not-quite-thrived run as a boys-only July/girls-only August summer get-away for kids, and the older kids who act as camp counselors there. “Boys vs Girls” is about the summer of 1990, that first summer that they went “coed.”
Narrator Dale (Eric Osborne) is a high school kid and counselor who doesn’t know what “coed” means. Seriously. But he and BFF Ben (Jesse Camacho) and the other lads have to learn new rules, now that it’s not just “be our true selves” boys acting boyish time.
Camp director Roger (“Whose Line Is It?” comic Colin Mochrie) lays down the law.
“No more naked morning dips…No more peeing wherever you happen to be.”
Girl narrator Amber (Rachael Dagenais) is head female counselor, fated to spar with Dale and you-know-how-that-will-end.
“That’s Tiffany (Samantha Helt),” she tells us. “She thought penicillin was a fashion statement.”
There’s a surfer dude himbo counselor (Tim Dowler-Coltman) and a would-be B-boy (Romeo Carere) who can’t freestyle to save his Canadian whiteboy life.
On the other side of the gender divide we have the knife-carrying Goth-girl (Michala Brasseur) and Miss Eager to Please (Nia Roam) who swoons over the B-Boy.
The boys and girls first square off in “training” for that first coed summer, but things get really out of hand when the coed crews of campers show up, taking the “feud” to the next level.
Except things never come close to “out of hand.” The genders square off in a British Bulldog match, leaving the poor boys at a loss.
“They have GIRL parts! What do we grab onto?”
“The…gender NEUTRAL parts!”
The “pranks” are so lame you know it’s intentional, but none of Canada’s Bright and Pretty Young Things can play “irony” in a way that lands a laugh. Camacho, of TV’s “Insomnia” and “Locke & Key” tries for over-the-top and finds a dirty chuckle or big guy sight gag or two.
Everybody else? Hired for their nearly perfect looks and eagerness to spend extra hours in the makeup chair to complete that perfection.
The ’80s fashions and hairstyles are on the money. So? That matters as much as the imitation ’80s synth pop on the soundtrack (Pat Benatar was the only “original artist” I recognized).
Writer-director Michael Stasko didn’t have much luck with low-budget sci-fi (“The Control”), and sadly has no eye or ear for comedy either. The movie’s scattering of raunchy touches — camp “skits” on what “toxic” boys are really like and how ditzy girls get over their first “period — don’t have novelty or any comic bite.
The acting ranges from indifferent but cute to “At least he looks right at home, outdoors in all that makeup.”
The two veteran comics in the cast, Mochrie and “Kids in the Hall” alumnus Kevin Macdonald (as the drinking, pill-popping camp caretaker) have nothing funny to play. Until the outtakes.
And those outtakes? They hint at a picture that might have been aiming for an R-rated rudeness, an idea that was almost abandoned, but not quite. Every coarse and crude moment feels like a punch that Stasko pulled or that his cast didn’t have the stomach to deliver.
MPA Rating: unrated, sexual humor, profanity
Cast: Rachel Dagenais, Eric Osborne, Michala Brasseur, Nia Roma, Romeo Carere, Jesse Camacho, Samantha Helt, Shaun Benson, Kevin McDonald, Colin Mochrie
Credits: Scripted and directed by Michael Stasko. A Dot.film release.