Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 17, 2011)
In the same vein as the American Pie flicks, we find 2011’s Mardi Gras Spring Break. Mike (Nicholas D’Agosto), Bump (Josh Gad) and Scotty (Bret Harrison) have been friends since high school. Now seniors at Penn State, Mike has a hot girlfriend (Danneel Harris) but neither Bump nor Scotty have been able to get collegiate action.
With only weeks until graduation, Bump wants one last fling – and Scotty needs one last chance to shed his virginity. Mike doesn’t really want to go, but when girlfriend Erica’s grandfather dies, he gets some free time and his pals convince him to head south with them.
While in New Orleans, a few subplots develop. Scotty wants to find “the one” and thinks he does so; she just happens to be Carmen Electra (herself). Mike encounters a crisis when he finds out Erica lied to him. How does he learn this? When he sees Erica flash her boobs on Bourbon Street. Finally, Bump just wants to see lots of skin and find a way onto a prime balcony spot to enjoy the action.
Okay, I admit it: when I requested a review copy of Break, I did so solely because the press release promised “graphic nudity”. I’m not proud of this, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. If loving movies with ample shots of hot naked women makes me wrong, I don’t wanna be right!
Do we find nudity in Break? Yes. Would I call it “graphic” – which I think implies ample full-frontal? No. We see a fair amount of female toplessness, a photo that involves penises, and too many shots of Gad’s ample butt. Anyone who watches Break solely for its skin factor – and that’d be me – will feel disappointed.
I can’t say I view the rest of the movie as a let-down as well, for I went into Break with exceedingly low expectations. I figured it’d be on a par with the consistently lousy “direct-to-video” American Pie sequels, so I held out little hope that it’d provide actual entertainment.
And I was mostly right, though Break does briefly threaten to amuse. It starts out poorly, as we open with a lame, misguided sequence in which an elderly couple reminisces about their time at Mardi Gras. Though the film treats them as sweet and nostalgic, we know where the joke will go – and does, when the husband and wife make graphic comments about sex and body parts.
The movie doesn’t improve during the scene in which Bump and Scotty hand out flyers for their party. Apparently the filmmakers agree with Will Ferrell that a flabby, unclothed male body equals “funny”, so Bump runs through the classroom totally nude.
No, we don’t see Gad’s bits and pieces, but we view enough of his woefully out of shape physique to nauseate. I don’t think the “ugly male body on display” idea is amusing when Ferrell does it, but at least he isn’t as grotesquely obese and disgusting as Gad. It’s an ill-conceived sequence that follows an obvious path but lacks laughs.
Surprisingly, the movie rebounds a bit when it first gets to New Orleans. It pokes a little fun at the teen comedy genre, and the lead actors show decent chops. In particular, Gad demonstrates reasonable talent. Yeah, he doesn’t seem original – he acts like the love child of Jack Black, John Belushi and Will Ferrell – but he has some skills and manages a little mirth.
But only a little, for after a promising few minutes, the movie quickly reverts to trite genre form. We get the expected nasty scatological bits – such as a scene when the crap literally hits the fan – and character development that bores more than anything else. There’s not a surprise or a clever moment to be found along the way.
Though I entered it with low expectations, Mardi Gras Spring Break does end up as a disappointment of sorts. Not only does it lack enough quality nudity to redeem it from that point of view, but also it falters badly after some decent scenes. This turns into a dull, uninventive comedy.