As drink­ing movies go, this one’s sloppy and ob­nox­ious

Chicago Sun-Times - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - BY RICHARD ROEPER, MOVIE COLUM­NIST rroeper@sun­times.com @RichardERo­eper

Take the “smart” out of “Books­mart,” the “su­per” out of “Su­per­bad” and the edge out of “The Purge,” and you get the Hulu movie “The Binge,” one of the worst come­dies of this or any other year, no­table only be­cause it fea­tures what might just be the most ter­ri­ble per­for­mance in Vince Vaughn’s up-and-down ca­reer, and I say that with no glee be­cause I’m a Vince Vaughn guy.

Vaughn tries valiantly but fails to wring some laughs out of the part of Prin­ci­pal Carlsen, a fasttalk­ing ball of strange who pre­sides over an Amer­i­can high school known as Amer­i­can High School (HA!) in the year 2032, when it’s il­le­gal to use, sell or man­u­fac­ture all forms of al­co­hol and nar­cotics — ex­cept for the one day a year when the em­bargo is lifted for 12 hours and you can go nuts with­out reper­cus­sions. What could pos­si­bly go right?

“The Binge” fol­lows the mis­ad­ven­tures of three 18-year-old se­niors who will be im­bib­ing for the first time: the earnest good guy Grif­fin (Skyler Gisondo, who ac­tu­ally was in “Books­mart”), the wise­crack­ing and trou­ble­mak­ing Hags (Dex­ter Dar­den) and the deeply weird An­drew (Ed­uardo Franco). As these three not par­tic­u­larly lik­able goofs stum­ble through the day and even­tu­ally a wild and crazy night, they sound like ac­tors who have just emerged from a ta­ble read and have mem­o­rized the script. Rarely, if ever, do their ex­changes feel nat­u­ral. (And yet the ver­bal ban­ter is still not quite as deadly as the vis­ual gags and the fran­tic and dopey party se­quences.)

Grace Van Dien plays Prin­ci­pal Carlsen’s daugh­ter, Lena, who is ab­so­lutely flab­ber­gasted when she re­ceives a promposal from a se­cret ad­mirer. Why she is flab­ber­gasted is any­one’s guess, given she’s a sweet and smart and lovely girl. Nev­er­the­less, flab­ber­gasted she is, and flab­ber­gasted she re­mains, un­til she fi­nally learns the iden­tity of the lucky fella. Lena’s over­pro­tec­tive fa­ther goes to great lengths, and we mean GREAT LENGTHS, to keep her from go­ing on a binge, which leads up to one of the more un­be­liev­ably stupid fi­nales in re­cent mo­tion pic­ture his­tory.

In ad­di­tion to the flat per­for­mances and the virtually laugh-free script, “The Binge” suf­fers from some se­ri­ously clunky edit­ing, where even a two-char­ac­ter ex­change is shot in such a way as to take us out of the story and won­der WHY cer­tain choices were made. Be­ing in the same room as this movie is like get­ting stuck at a ta­ble at a wed­ding reception with the drunk­est and most ob­nox­ious guy in at­ten­dance. All you can do is count the min­utes un­til the sweet re­lief of the night com­ing to an end.


Hags (Dex­ter Dar­den) en­joys the one day of the year when al­co­hol is le­gal in “The Binge.”

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