Finally, a raucous comedy about the Hollywood club lifestyle, that backs up its raunch factor with genuine wit! The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down is a how-to farce that breaks down the do's and don'ts of the club scene into terms any maladroit wannabe can understand. Arranged in easy chapters according to subject matter, the film follows the exploits of at least thirty party animals as they attempt to get past security and score with the opposite sex. Clever graphics and sidebar discussions mimic the style of educational films with frequently hilarious results, explaining to boys what's really different about the female agenda, and vice versa. The movie offers helpful tips on avoiding behaviors with undesirable downsides -- like death -- yet promotes an attitude toward marijuana and cocaine that will inspire heart attacks in parents everywhere.
Let's face it, much of America will consider The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down the work of the devil, and only hipsters familiar with Hollywood's Cahuenga club scene will recognize it as an exaggerated satire. But the attitudes and actual practices pictured are not far from the truth. Girls and guys drift through the story by pairs or in groups, looking for fun or to get lucky. Paul Sapiano and Nik Venet's script gives us the lowdown on what's really happening while approaching the subject from three different directions at once.
Guided by the narrators, we observe the club animals like specimens in the zoo. Graphics leap in to help explain that boys hit the clubs to find girls, while girls congregate with less defined goals. Alcohol focuses the boys on the one mission of getting laid, while drinks definitely lower a young woman's judgment. Every few minutes the film switches formats, to show humorously lewd graphics explaining the libidinous forces at work, or to use the example of some unlucky lab mice to demonstrate the effects of alcohol and cocaine.
The process of getting admitted to a club prompts the expected skits about sneaky scammers and gargantuan club security men. But the cute, funny and screwed-up characters aren't all that exaggerated. The kids exhibit few inhibitions, speak in obscenities and behave as if selfish ignorance were a virtue -- in other words, they're normal people out for a good time. We follow at least twenty faces that drift in and out of the narrative. All have the same goal in mind -- heavy duty partying. 1
The 'educational' narration explains what the boys look for when checking out girls, while targeting data graphics leap onto the screen. New topics jump up like chapters in a book. The movie is frank about social realities, many of which haven't changed. Girls want guys who are tall, handsome and wealthy, and boys without these qualities have to compensate, usually by being funny. A witty fantasy makeover shows a nondescript loser transformed into a chick magnet with a simple hairstyle change, tight jeans, a tat(oo) and a guitar case for a prop. Another chart shows how the inebriation level climbs at 'last call' time. When so many people are desperate to end up in bed, they tend to become much less discriminating with their bedmates.
Some of the skits are hilarious. The narrators explain that a few really desirable girls go to gay bars so they can dance without being hassled. They then show us a straight con artist who specializes in picking up these girls by pretending to be gay. The pretender maneuvers a chick into offering to help him discover his 'straight' side, and gets a big surprise. The film has a basically tolerant and affectionate attitude to these night-crawler kids. Even the slimeballs and sluts reveal likeable qualities; it's just that their high-risk lifestyle seems like a waste of good effort.
The movie becomes more controversial when it deals with the subject of drugs, making a distinction between hard drugs and those it considers harmless, marijuana and cocaine (!). Alcohol is rated much higher on the danger meter, and the narrators are quick to show the criminal idiocy of driving under the influence. A drunken lab mouse takes a wild ride in a fast Barbie convertible, leading to a scene referenced in the closing credits: "Only one mouse was harmed in the making of this film".
Even funnier is the sensible advice about rip-off street drug deals and the ins and outs of buying from a dealer: their goods are always "the best", and they're always late. As for the boys that think that drugs will get them somewhere with women, Getting Down offers an old adage: A fool and his baggie are soon parted. One variety of party girl magically appears whenever drugs are available, but disappears as soon as they are gone.
Getting Down brings new life to old Cheech and Chong gags -- the proper passing of a joint is explained, along with the rule that he who provides the dope can hold it all he wants. The after-hours House Party is a secret that always gets out, and one can easily spot the target house because there's always a crying girl outside. Here's where everybody acts cool waiting for somebody else to produce the drugs. The house is invariably trashed.
As for thinking that one can carry illegal substances and outfox the police, Getting Down has a very realistic outlook: in the end the law makes the rules, and they'll nail you. The police are treated with respect, but plenty of viewers will consider Getting Down a how-to manual for forbidden and dangerous behaviors.
As the bars close, the topic of one-night stands and hot sex finally comes around. Although a condom or two make an appearance birth control is not discussed; the film rather recklessly assumes that if a kid is 18 and hasn't yet gotten into trouble, he or she knows what they're doing. We are given a pointed, if still comedic demonstration of why giving somebody a drug without their knowledge is a no-no. Alcohol inhibits sexual performance, and a girl slips her partner a small dose of viagra unaware that he has a heart problem.
Getting Down is riotously funny, and sufficiently glamorous to serve as a warped behavior guide for aspiring hipsters. The large, able cast does excellent comedy work. Director Sapiano shows affection for his characters even as the narration treats them as a curious form of wild life, like oversexed lemmings. The movie never moralizes, at least not on the surface. But when the night crawlers slink back into the sunlight 'the morning after', they're reminded that the straight people around them are living real lives, and that they are the freaks. That observation is probably not enough to steer many kids away from La Dolce Vita on Wilcox Avenue, but it at least shows a sense of perspective. Not many raunchy comedies leave us with something to debate.
First Look's The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down looks to be a quality DVD but the screener sent for review is an altered dub with superimpositions and numerous scenes rendered in B&W, presumably to avoid piracy. The overall quality has been affected (the image overall has issues) so I cannot evaluate it. Savant avoids reviewing from anything but street product and in the future will try to sidestep these compromised screeners.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down rates:
1. The characters we see can't be dismissed as stereotypes, as any night of the week a simple stroll between Selma and Hollywood Blvds. will turn up plenty of examples of each type: lots of guys with bald heads and goatees wearing black and looking cool, and a veritable army of young girls in abbreviated cocktail dresses, standing in line outside the hot clubs. In just the last couple of years, evening parking in the area has gone from six dollars to fifteen or twenty ... the newly safe streets of Hollywood are now a Mecca for young hipsters with money to spend.
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