Not Worth the Journey

'Eurotrip' offers unoriginal writing and bad jokes.

I was hoping that Eurotrip would be this year's Old School, a guilty pleasure rife with raunchy humor.

The previews were promising, featuring Saturday Night Live player Fred Armisen as a perverted Italian man groping young adults as their train passed through dark tunnels. Alas, Armisen gets the only real laughs in this tired film where insulting European stereotypes abound, and subjects like incest and Hitler fuel truly unfunny jokes.

From the makers of Road Trip and, oddly enough, Old School, this production makes very few strides toward original humor. When newly dumped high school graduate Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) decides to seek out his female Berlin pen pal, he takes along friends Cooper, Jenny and Jamie (Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) for a wild European ride through all your basic overseas clichés.

When our affable crew winds up in London, guess what? They run into soccer hooligans who threaten to kick their asses, but then take them under their wings. When in Rome, they encounter prissy Italian Vatican guards dressed in Renaissance outfits. In Amsterdam, it's Rastafarians running a bakery, because they've got a lot of drugs there, right? In Eastern Europe, they battle a nasty German dominatrix who shoves vibrating dildos into unwanted areas. All of this plays as a lazy screenwriter's Saturday afternoon, with the writer scribbling down the first ideas that popped into his head, no matter how done-to-death and obvious the humor might be. Very little of it gets laughs.

When Armisen gets on a train with the troupe, the film goes up a level, but only because Armisen is such a gifted performer. The material he's given to work with (lecherous Italian guy) might've been just as hackneyed as the rest of the film, but his timing and general creepiness make the scene work. Every time he exclaims "Mi scusi!" it's very funny. Unfortunately for the film, his presence is brief. He will have a more featured role in the upcoming Anchorman starring Will Ferrell.

The film allegedly didn't travel to all the locations in its script, and it definitely has that Epcot Center, done-on-a-studio-lot feel. Paris has the Eiffel Tower; Italy has a lot of pope humor; Germany has kids dressing up like Hitler, and so on. Yeah, the sight of a young kid goose-stepping with a Hitler moustache is subversive enough, but director Jeff Schaffer fails to heighten the moment. Jacob Pitts' shocked reaction to the spectacle is the scene's high point. Incidentally, Schaffer is one of the men responsible for the Cat in the Hat screenplay, which is not a good sign.

Pitts and Wester show signs of decent comic acting, and they will probably fare better in future ventures. Buffy the Vampire Slayer's little sis, Michelle Trachtenberg, gets a chance to show off her more adult side, including her bodice, and she looks as if her talents would be better suited to better films. In a useless and unfunny cameo, Matt Damon shows up as a punk rocker singing "Scotty Doesn't Know," a scathing tune about Scotty's being unaware of his former girlfriend's infidelity. The joke song gets a better laugh when it shows up as a ring tone on somebody's cell phone.

As a precaution, I did turn off my brain before watching this one, in hopes that it would be that good kind of stupid that would appeal to the caveman within me. There's lots of gratuitous nudity, including many naked breasts. Actually, there seem to be far more naked penises (this movie must hold the record for dicks in a commercial film). As far as exposed male genitalia is concerned, Eurotrip is a somewhat of a noteworthy achievement due to the sheer volume. As for comic noteworthiness, it's a big zero.

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