Movie Review: Struggling Writer seeks Sexual Incentive for Success — “Win a Trip to Browntown!”

“Win a Trip to Browntown!” is a “family” comedy about anal sex, an almost-laugh-free lurch along the not-so-fine-line between “insipid” and “insufferable.”

Broadly, dully acted, with a script that sounds like a beer-soaked brainstorming session from your 25th college reunion — “Let’s see how many euphemisms we can come up with!” — “non-starter” might be the nicest way to describe writer-director-producer-star George A. Tramountanas‘ sophomore screen effort.

His debut feature was “Screwed: A Hollywood Bedtime Story,” which nobody saw in 1998. Over twenty years later he brings us this, which shows how some never outgrow tone-deafness and how short the memory is when the universe has already tried to tell you something.

He stars as Frank, a cubicle drone at a Seattle college struggling to get published as a writer. There’s this big annual “impress publishers, get published” contest called “Pitchfest.” Maybe this year he can come up with a story somebody sees a way to make money from and will put in print.

Frank is a doughy 40something, with an almost-overwhelmed wife (Kendra McDermott), a youngest son still wetting the bed, a young teen daughter struggling with weight and body issues and an oldest son stressing over the academic perfection it’ll take to get into MIT.

Not a bad life, he narrates as the family celebrates Mom and Dad’s 21st anniversary, “to 20 wonderful years…Every couple has a bad year.”

But what matters most to Frank is getting published. It’s what he obsesses about on his “anonymous” blog, a place where he shares his ambitions, dreams, plans and occasionally over-shares about his family. He saves his rejection letters, notes how all of them point to bland characters and a tendency towards “nice” when conflict is the lifeblood of fiction — drama, tragedy or comedy, on the page or on the screen.

Yes, the line between the writer-director-star and his hero blurs as neither seems to ever get a handle on this basic concept.

The “conflict” at the center of “Win a Trip” hangs on is Frank’s self-centered focus on this goal, those neglected because of it and the idea he and Laura cook up to give him the incentive to look his best at Pitchfest.

If he can lose 50 pounds before the event, he’ll “Win a Trip” to you-know-where with her.

There are cutesy scenes of Laura and her sisters (Heather Reynosa and Amelia Samson) talking their “timid titmouse” sibling into “training” for this new sexual experience, with a shockingly humorless trip to the sex-toy shop as part of that process.

We see and hear Frank’s confiding in his boorish, younger supervisor (Phillip Dean Silva), something we just know will blow up on him.

We get glimpses of what all this self-attention-not-kids-attention is doing to their children.

And we hear every PG-13 rated euphemism for masturbation (“fist kebobs”) and anal sex known to middle-aged man, virtually none of which are as amusing as the ones listed on this site.

Just getting a movie made, talking people into financing it and convincing a distributor to put it out is a Herculean task, and there’s no denying that in itself is an accomplishment.

But if this is the best you have to offer, a comedy as edgy as a “naughty but nice” T-shirt that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at a church bake sale and as funny as a stand-up comic who works funerals, maybe this time when the universe tries to tell you something, you should listen.

Rating: unrated, endless innuendo about innuendo

Cast: George A. Tramountanas, Kendra McDermott, Phillip Dean Silva and Heather Reynosa

Credits: Scripted and directed by George A. Tramountanas. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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