In 10 Words or Less
Feature-length sketch comedy about teen sex
Loves: Not Another Teen Movie
Likes: Parody movies, Jamie Kennedy
Dislikes: Unrated movies with no reason to be unrated
Hates: The [Blank] Movie phenomenon
If they hadn't given this film the ridiculous title Extreme Movie, and instead were able to stick with the far better Everything You Wanted to Know About Teenage Sex...But Were Afraid to Ask, I would have been far more interested in it. After all, it's got a pretty fun cast that includes Matthew Lillard, Michael Cera, Jamie Kennedy and Frankie Muniz; it's directed by two of the writers of the excellent Not Another Teen Movie and it shares its format with parody classics like The Groove Tube and Amazon Women on the Moon. How could I not want to give it a look?
Well, probably because I've been burned so often before by movies with the word movie in the title. Yes, Extreme Movie is lightyears ahead of the crappy Epic Date Disaster Movies, but that's a bar so low snakes can jump it, so it's kind of damning the movie with feint praise. Made up of a series of sketches about teen sexuality, built around bits including Michael (Ryan Pinkston) and his personal sexual issues, there's no moment more important than what's on the screen at any given time, unless there's a booby scene up next. Unfortunately, those nuggets of nudity are few and far between, making the unrated status seemingly unnecessary for most of the film.
Instead of non-step nudity, we get plenty of teases, and a surprisingly high number of genuine, if low-brow, laughs. I'm confident I laughed more at the ridiculous gags in this 75-minutes of film than I did during all of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's cinematic bastardizations combined. While the main "storyline" felt a bit flat (there's only so many ways Michael can be a loser, no how many fake penises are thrown his way,) the unconnected segments range from the manic comedy of Muniz bedding a girl constantly looking to try something different in bed to the simple, yet absurd bit about a guy with an unhealthy obsession for one of America's greatest Presidents. Sure, a clown at a children's party with a massive erection or a puppet teaching about sexual frustration isn't high art, but I'll be damned if the scenes aren't funny.
In looking over the non-Michael scenes (and those that aren't disappointing PSAs with Lillard (they would have only worked with a more-famous, cleancut celebrity)) there's not one that's not enjoyable, because they are so disconnected from reality, and wallow in their silliness, unlike the Michael scenes, which try too hard to fit the virgin-chasing-tail model. Whether its a reinterpretation of the creation scene from Weird Science, with much less desirable results, Michael Sera trying to seduce a girl with a rape fantasy, or Andy Milonakis' whirlwind romance with a sex toy, they are all a great deal of fun to watch. That's only right, considering the writing credits for the film, which include the directors, The Lonely Island crew of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, and SNL vets John Solomon and Will Forte. It makes sense to think the non-Michael scenes are from the better-known writers, as their stamp seems more sketch than movie (though the commentary points out otherwise in some cases.) Trim up the skeleton and add more of this meat, and you have a great movie, but as it stands, it's simply a filthy, fun time.
A one-disc release, the DVD is packed in a standard keepcase, which arrives in a slipcover with an opening flap that has yearbook-style jokes about the characters. The disc offers up a static anamorphic widescreen with options to play the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the extras. There are no audio options, but subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on this film is solid all around, with appropriate color and a rather high level of detail, to go along with a nice crisp image. There are no obvious issues with dirt or damage, nor are any digital artifacts evident.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track isn't the most impressive presentation you've heard, but this is sketch comedy, not an action movie. For the most part, the clear, strong dialogue is delivered up front and centered, though the side and rear speakers give the music a boost.
The first extra is an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, with footage from the set and interviews with the cast. Seeing the actress from the final musical number show she wasn't lipsyncing was an interesting touch, but it's mostly just clips from the shoot, with some insight from the directors.
The more impressive extra is the feature-length audio commentary with directors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, which is an excellent example of what kind of interesting track you can get when the participants really show an interest in the process. The duo have plenty of info about the production of the film, including details on the obstacles they faced, like a budget of a million dollars and a very short shooting schedule, and the movie it could have been if different things happened, like other actors and scenes. Based on some of the comments made, they may have come in with an outline of things they wanted to hit (or were asked to discess,) and as a result they gave a track with no dead spots and answers to any questions you might have about the film.
The Bottom Line
I had almost no expectations for Extreme Movie and that probably worked to its benefit, as the film took me by surprise and really impressed as a next generation version of the sketch comedy movies I loved from the '80s. Sure, it's uneven in terms of the laughs (as most sketch comedy is) but it hits enough to be a good time. The DVD presentation is very good, and the extras are a nice addition, especially the quality commentary track from the directors. Hopefully this is the first step on the way to a return of good parody movies. After all, iff anyone is going to show us the way, it's going to be the gang from Not Another Teen Movie.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.