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Eurotrip (Unrated Widescreen Edition)

Universal // R // June 1, 2004
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted May 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
"From the producers of Road Trip and Old School!" I guess that plays better than "From the writers of The Cat in the Hat!" Don't let that taint your perception of Eurotrip, though. The movie comes courtesy of Seinfeld scribes David Mandel, Alec Berg, and Jeff Schaffer, and although their screenplay doesn't boast the level of wit that propelled that TV series to the top of the ratings, it's one of the funnier teen comedies from the past couple of years.

"I can't believe he's so trusting
While I'm right behind you thrusting"
Eurotrip begins with Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) getting dumped at graduation by his girlfriend Fiona (Smallville's Kristen Kreuk). He's consoled by a longtime German pen pal who suggests hooking up with him in the U.S., and Scotty not being up for rape and evisceration at the hand of some dude off the Internet, he drunkenly sends an e-mail telling him off. Scotty groggily wakes up the next morning and realizes that "he" isn't a "he", but a stunning blonde bombshell. Unable to send Mieke an apology message or to dig up her phone number, Scott, spurred on by his best friend Cooper (Jacob Pitts), decides to make a not-so-predictable trip to Berlin to tell her how he feels in person. Without enough cash to head directly to Germany, they land in London instead, meeting up with their twin pals Jamie and Jenny (Travis Wester and Michelle Trachtenberg) as they trek across the continent. Of course, they stop and see the sights along the way, including a visit to a nude beach in France, wolfing down brownies in Amsterdam, hitting the red light district, and taking a tour of the Vatican, none of which go quite the way they expect.

It takes Eurotrip a little while to find its footing, with its laughless first ten minutes and an interminable title sequence. While I was mentally preparing an assault of self-indulgent barbs to gingerly distribute throughout this review, Eurotrip suddenly delivered a one-two punch. First was a cameo by Matt Damon as a heavily-pierced punk rocker singing "Scotty Doesn't Know" about his freaky fling with Fiona, with lyrics like "Fiona's got him on the phone / And she's trying not to moan / It's a three way call". Meanwhile, Cooper stumbles upon a busty, topless blonde relaxing in a hot tub, and as repulsed as she is by him, he somehow convinces Candy to feel herself up. Since Eurotrip tries to maintain some semblance of a plot, there are frequently several minute gaps between laughs. The setup to some gags can be a little lengthy, but the payoff's almost always worth it. Probably the most consistently funny sequence in the entire movie is Cooper's trip to a sex bar in Amsterdam. The safe word, some of the sight gags...just genius. There's a bit earlier in the movie where Scotty has a low-speed, vocally-mechanical brawl against a French faux-robot, seems like it would be the most annoying thing I've ever seen captured on celluloid, but it works, and it works terrifyingly well. Like most road trip movies, it's not about the destination so much as the journey. Generally that means the third act is excruciatingly dull. Instead of petering out near the end, Eurotrip has a blasphemously hysterical conclusion in Rome, and even the inevitable "does our plucky hero get the girl?" question doesn't end with a romantic kiss and sweeping strings, but...well, I'm not going to spoil it here.

Eurotrip also manages to avoid having an annoying main character. Most of these sorts of comedies either have a lovelorn, hopelessly bland lead, or he has a fingernails-on-chalkboard grating best friend to tag along for 87 minutes of wacky misadventures. Thomas Ian Nichols in American Pie, Vince Vieluf in Grind, Freddie Prinze Jr. in Boys and Girls...I could keep the list going for seven or eight pages, but this review is long enough as it is. I mean, Eurotrip isn't a movie rife with deep character development, but all of its characters are at least infused with personality, and nothing they do or say seems all that forced or artificial. You need likeable characters for a flick like this to work, and I thought the cast pulled it off really well. Even the cameos are good. It doesn't take the "hey, that's ______!" approach, where the fact that an established star is on-screen for a minute or two is the joke. Matt Damon, Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show), Lucy Lawless (Xena), David Hasselhoff, and especially Vinnie Jones as Manchester United's most violently loyal fan all manage to get some pretty solid laughs.

A bunch of you may be reading this review curious about how this unrated release differs from the R-rated version that made the rounds theatrically. One of the extras on the DVD lists the major changes -- an extended hot tub sequence that kicks off topless, additional profanity from Scotty's kid brother, more sausage on the nude beach, an extended look at a pants-less Creepy Italian Guy, an orange juice ad with dildos and lesbians, a little more in Bratslava, lengthier tongue-rasslin' between the twins, and some more post-absinthe reflections the next morning. A couple of other little differences are noted in the commentary, like some sketched nudity in the opening credits and a bit with Cooper mixing a bunch of glasses of booze together.

I can't believe this review is as long as it is. Before delving into the technical aspects of the DVD, I'll quickly summarize and promise to never, ever ramble on this long again. I went into Eurotrip hopeful, but in the back of my mind kind of expecting something a little more Tomcats-ish. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of genuinely funny moments, and the likeable cast and speedy pace make those intervening moments painless to sit through. Definitely at least worth a rental.

Video: There are three different releases of Eurotrip hitting store shelves on Tuesday. Two of 'em are full-frame, with one unrated and the theatrical cut tacked onto the other. Predictably, the version reviewed here preserves the movie's theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in anamorphic widescreen. The quality is pretty typical for a new release -- respectably crisp and clear, free of any notable print flaws, and nice 'n colorful. Some scattered grainy shots look a little hazy, and there's some sporadic edge haloing as well. Neither of those are enough to really bring my overall positive opinion of the presentation down any, though I wouldn't have complained if the image were a little more detailed.

Audio: The main soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at a bitrate of 448Kbps. It's a standard issue comedy mix, with very little happening in the surrounds. The vast majority of the action takes place up front, particularly the dialogue in the center channel. Most of the thumping in the lower frequencies can be attributed to the crunchy licensed music, which is much more tolerable than the watered-down Simple Plan-grade of poppy punk that usually litters these sorts of movies. "Scotty Doesn't Know" is played a half-dozen times in different forms, which would normally be a Bad Thing, but it's so ridiculously catchy that it gets a free pass. Of course, the film's dialogue gets most of the track's attention, and it comes through flawlessly. Fine for what it is. Also provided are a six-channel French dub (384Kbps), an English stereo surround track, closed captions, and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Supplements: Writers Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, and Dave Mandel are on almost every square inch of this disc, beginning with two audio commentaries.
They're sober in the first commentary track, striking that View Askew-ish balance of non-stop discussion that's both funny and informative. They give a pretty strong impression what it was like to work on the movie, pointing out their inexperience as filmmakers and even the aspects of the movie they didn't think worked so well. It doesn't get technical to the point of rattling off specific film stocks or which brand scrim they used in lighting a particular scene, but they talk about clearancing headaches, their difficulty getting people to Prague in a time of SARS and Iraqi conflicts, and lifting ideas from a rewrite they were doing of Out Cold. Among the various other topics are a sly reference to Yojimbo, an unseen Tweety reel, and how Jamie getting robbed in mid-fellatio really happened to a friend of theirs. Definitely worth a listen. The second track is labeled a "Party Along Commentary", and like most real parties, if you're not drunk, it's kinda dull. Some of it's rehashed from the other commentary, although between all the belching, drinking, and discussion about belching and drinking, it's not really worth wading through to find the rest. I couldn't really make it that far into it, I have to admit. I'm not too keen on the way the commentaries are accessed, requiring delving through a bunch of submenus then having to go back to the main menu to start the movie. Viewers would be better off just selecting the commentaries directly through their DVD remotes.

Although this is an unrated version of Eurotrip, not everything that was filmed was reincorporated back into the movie. First up is a five-minute gag reel that pieces together the usual flubbed lines, some on-set pranks, and goofing around between takes. Mandel, Berg, and Schaffer offer optional commentary for thirteen deleted scenes. These include Cooper and Scotty trying to figure out how to carry their luggage and the packages they're supposed to deliver onto a flight, more wacky hijinks with the soccer hooligans, how their ditching out on a bill seemed far too familiar for their stuffy French waiter, penile photography, Jenny cooling off with a can of Diet Coke, a trip to Amsterdam's most luxurious youth hostel (with AbFab's Joanna Lumley), Jenny flashing her headlights to catch a car ride, the full nekkid lesbian Hapi Djús spot, an eleventh hour reunion with the creepy Italian guy, profanity in the Pope's province, spending a little more time in the confessional booth, and some domestic robot wars. The footage runs around nineteen minutes and can be viewed individually or consecutively. Their commentary makes mention of an aborted courier subplot that sounded pretty funny, their difficulty teaching Czech extras to belt out a Sheena Easton song, and noting tree height in a series of flashbacks. Also provided is the original ending, which can similarly be viewed with or without commentary. The filmmakers' notes just consist of a few sentences and don't say much beyond the fact that it was a downer and that test audiences didn't really go for it. This footage is letterboxed and runs just under three minutes total.

Eurotrip also offers up a couple of handy indexes. Indices? Whatever. Anyway, the first lets viewers leap directly to eight of the unrated scenes, and the other hops straight to every scene with nudity. Speaking of which, the "Nude Beach Exposed" featurette spends a little over six minutes exploring the comedic power of the naked male ass, with a bunch of behind the scenes footage of the filming of that sequence and some comments from Eurotrip's writers and director. "There are so many penises..."

Brotherly love.
There's also a second page of extras that I almost didn't notice. Since the DGA isn't keen on a flick having three credited directors, the "How to Pick a Director" clip reveals how Jeff Schaffer got the nod, courtesy of a Czech production assistant and a plastic cup. One of the more creative extras has the three filmmakers reviewing a bootleg DVD of Eurotrip bought on the streets of Chinatown, followed by a couple minutes of poorly-framed, muffled footage from that disc. "The Music of Eurotrip" serves up a music video for "Scotty Doesn't Know", a bouncing-ball version of the video to warble along with, and a plug for the soundtrack. The original screenplay is also provided, although it's pretty cumbersome to have to sift through eight quadrillion pages of tiny excerpts on each menu. It's noted pretty frequently in the extras that there was a lot more in the screenplay than made it into the final cut, and that's apparent even from some quick skimming through the first few pages. Sorry, my thumb's not cut out to discover how much of the screenplay's provided here, but it seems to be the whole thing. Rounding out the extras are fifty-three photos, some dull production notes, and bios for much of the cast and crew.

Eurotrip comes packaged in a keepcase, one of those mildly annoying kinds with the clips on the side. At least with the review copy I was sent, there was no insert. The DVD itself features twenty chapter stops and widescreen menus with animated transitions.

Conclusion: Most of the teen comedies churned out over the past few years have wasted too much time dreaming up gross sight gags, not leaving enough for the writers to scribble down anything that's actually funny. Like a lot of comedies, the humor in Eurotrip is hit-or-miss, but it hit the mark enough to keep me laughing pretty steadily throughout. The banner at the top of the cover art mentions that it's from the producers of Road Trip. That's not a bad point of reference; Eurotrip has a similar sensibility, but at least for my money, I thought these three Seinfeld writers managed to make a much more consistently funny movie. It's the type of flick I can definitely see myself whipping out when I have friends over, and that replay value and the number of extras make this DVD worth picking up. Recommended.
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