Background: Teen comedies are a dime a dozen with the quality of most of them tending towards the low end of the scale. So many of them tend to borrow overly used themes that I tend to avoid them altogether until some of my trusted reviewer buddies review them, essentially allowing them to take the bullet in my stead. Well, every now and then, my turn to get stuck with a clunker comes around as was the case with the letterboxed press screener edition of Foreign Exchange.
The Title page!
Movie: Foreign Exchange is a lightweight story about four high school seniors selected to house foreign exchange students from various parts of the world in their homes during the school year. The four consist of Dave (Ryan Pinkston) as the geeky loser with his virginity intact, Gordan "Shantz" Lally (Daniel Booko) as the muscle headed jock, Jay Noble (Randy Wayne) as the smooth talking ladies man of the bunch, and Hashime "Hashbrown" (Miles Thompson) as the genius. Dave gets stuck with a French jerk Laurent Voleur (Jarrett Sleeper) much like Jay, Shantz gets a Russian guy (Jonny Acker) whose name he can't pronounce but looks like he's on steroids, Hashbrown gets the nerdy Indian Ganja Venegalpanushka (Arshad Aslam), and Jay gets the Brazilian hotty Anita Duarte (Tania Raymonde).
The chapter menu
Dave ends up competing with Laurent for the affections of Robin (Vanessa Lengies) a cute gal that views Dave as her buddy even though she looks like a young Jenna Haze while Jay goes after bedding Anita but remains unsuccessful. The entire movie focuses largely on the Dave's quest to protect Robin from Laurent, all the usual misunderstandings taking place as Shantz tries to increase his GPA to the requisite 2.3 (from a 1.9) so he doesn't lose his scholarship to the state college that they all intend on going to together. Side plots about Mai Ho (Jessika Van) trying to go out with Dave, principle Katie "rottencrotch" Lonnatini (Jennifer Coolidge in an embarrassingly lame role) trying to make the guys repeat the year, and "Long Larry" (Clint Howard) giving the guys a break due to his sexual escapades with Shantz's father when he catches the guy hunting with his Russian pal without a license ("I had my first man on man meat munch with your father though he did most of the munching if you know what I mean..."). In all though, the humor was lame even by teen comedy standards, the plot so threadbare that staying awake should earn you a medal of appreciation, and the formulaic manner in which it was all thrown together so haphazardly that even the most hardcore fans of the genre will wince if watching this one.
I could go into great detail about the specific elements of the movie but aside from pointing out there was a pool party, various hijinks relating to school, drug use, and a camping expedition, none of them worth your time considering how many funny movies are available at this writing. Needless to say, a rating of Skip It is probably too generous except that there were some boobs flashed and minor nudity that came across as the sole payoff of the entire flick. The direction of the film was as competent as the writing and acting though so even if none of these elements were worth a spit, at least no one shined to make the rest of the cast or crew stand out as merely bad.
Picture: Foreign Exchange was presented as a 480i, full frame 1.33:1 ratio outing as shot by director Danny Roth as released in the standard definition MPEG-2 codec (the video bitrate hovering in the 4.3 Mbps range when spot checked). There is an unrated and widescreen version available too but I doubt any additional footage will fix the issues raised above. The fleshtones were largely accurate and the grain occasionally a problem, some edge enhancement noticed as well as moiré and macroblocking noticed in the night scenes. The movie was reportedly made on a very low budget and it looked like it but I have to point out that my copy also had a watermarked logo on it at times in big block letters saying how it was for screening purposes only too. The final product may look better but the lack of chemistry between the actors, the weak script, and the lame humor will prevent even awesome upgrades in the picture from having an impact to most people.
Sound: The audio was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround English using the standard 48 kHz sampling rate and a 448 Kbps audio bitrate. The music was largely generic but the vocals were decent, mixed higher than the score or background effects. It was center speaker heavy with little separation and limited dynamic range, the rear speakers and subwoofer hardly used effective at all. There was no headspace and the production might as well have been in monaural given the quality of the sound, though again, it is only fair to remind people that this might have been a pre-production screener copy and not the final product.
Extras: The only extra included on the DVD was a 21:26 minute long series of deleted scenes and bloopers as well as a trailer. Some of them were okay but few of them gave any reason to be included in the main movie.
Final Thoughts: Foreign Exchange reminded me that really lame movies are still made in mass quantity, relying on tried & true formulas that some people can't pass up when reading box covers. If you're considering getting a copy of this one based on rumors of extensive nudity, potential laughs, or wonderful acting of awesome scripts, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn or some ocean front property in Arizona so avoid it like the plague. The extras, the technical aspects, and the content of the movie were such that a more in-depth look at the movie is unwarranted but you might find a laugh or two if you get drunk beforehand so consider this a warning.