Eurotrip (2004) ***
Directed by Jeff Schaffer; written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Mr. Schaffer; director of photography, David Eggby; edited by Roger Bondelli; music by James L. Venable; production designer, Allan Starski; produced by Daniel Goldberg, Jackie Marcus, Mr. Berg and Mr. Mandel; released by Dreamworks . 92 minutes. Rated R. Cast: Scott Mechlowicz (Scott Thomas), Michelle Trachtenberg (Jenny), Jacob Pitts (Cooper Harris), Travis Wester (Jamie), Jessica Boehrs (Mieke), Nial Iskhakov (Bert), Lucy Lawless (Madame Vandersexxx), Vinnie Jones (Mad Maynard) and Fred Armisen (Creepy Italian Guy).
High school movies are a very American genre in which the students do anything but study. Within this genre there is a sub-genre in which students graduate (you wonder why?) and are launched into mazes of shenanigans. That’s where “Eurotrip” comes in. You may call it “Eurotripe” but I predict that it is going to sell tons of tickets to younger audiences, including those who will easily circumvent the R-rating.
This is a movie that, to my limited knowledge, attains new highs (and lows) with its plethora of sex, clearly exposed breasts, frank allusions, “naughty” language and all that. It comes at a time when television, fashions, shots of celebrities, commercials, magazine photos, “mature” footage, etc., etc. are increasingly concerned with former no-nos which now increasingly follow European visuals. In some ways, the new “excesses” are breaking down restrictions in what, at home and mostly abroad, is often said to be American prudishness, even hypocrisy.
Whatever the case, “Eurotrip” is an entertaining mess, often heavy-handed but also often quite funny. Judging from the many reviews of the flick, there is no consensus; reactions rate from low to high grades. Here is one movie with a non-script but with constant improvisations. The opening credits are a set of excellent, funny animations. The plot, such as it is, goes as follows:
On graduation day, in Ohio, Scott Thomas gets dumped by his girl-friend. He finds some consolation in his e-mail flirtation with Mieke (pronounced Mike by him) a German girl in Berlin. But in a new twist he thinks that Mike is a man propositioning him. In a second twist, he finds out that Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) is a beautiful female. So he’s off to Berlin, accompanied by his best buddy Cooper (Jacob Pitts.) Finances force the pals to go first to London, where they get involved with a bunch of something like American rednecks: wild, heavy-drinking fans of the Manchester United football team. The fanatics and the Ohioans drive to Paris. There the two buddies become four with the addition of ex-schoolmates, the twins Jenny and Jamie. (Jamie has learned the Arthur Frommer Guide to Europe by heart!) The foursome join forces and try to get to Berlin.
The trip involves several stops and several weird encounters. Among them a swarthy Italian in a train compartment who keeps making passes at one of the boys and keeps apologizing (in a non-Italian accent) with “Mi scusi” which means “excuse me” and not “Me, skuzzy!” There’s also a nudist beach in France (a twist here); Holland (more twists, some hilarious); Bratislava (Slovakia’s capital); finally Berlin, where they learn that Mieke has gone to Rome. The Vatican becomes the pals’ next stop, with high comedy that must be the first ever in movies. I won’t clue you in except to say that it involves the Pope and is wildly funny. As is the sacrilegious sex of Scott and newfound Mieke.
There’s a super-plethora of improbabilities, impossibilities, illogicalities and non sequiturs within the movie’s slight-of-hand adventures and pereginations. But they are funny. Gross? Well, yes, or at least semi-gross. But mostly funny.
What impresses me above all is that except for Germany and Holland, all the film’s locations were created in Prague – in the excellent Barrandov Studios, I bet. What a tour-de-force in this tour-de-farce!