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Dustin Putman

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Miss March  (2009)
3 Stars
Directed by Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore.
Cast: Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Raquel Alessi, Molly Stanton, Craig Robinson, Hugh Hefner, Carla Jimenez, Cedric Yarbrough, Geoff Meed, Slade Pearce, Remy Thorne, Eve Mauro, Alexis Raben, Tanjareen Martin, Niki J. Crawford, Britten Kelley, Sara Jean Underwood, Betsy Rue.
2009 – 90 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, March 13, 2009.
Having never seen the cult television series "The Whitest Kids U' Know," perhaps it would behoove me to start watching. Creators Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore, who write, direct and star in the show, pull similar triple-duty with their inaugural foray into feature films. Taking its R-rating to the extreme, "Miss March" is a subversively hilarious romp, gleefully unapologetic in its coarseness and yet so dang silly that it never becomes mean-spirited. Crossing 2000's "Road Trip" with 1999's "American Pie," 2008's "Sex Drive," and, most welcome of all, 1980's spoof extraordinaire "Airplane!," the film doesn't have too much to offer that is new from a narrative standpoint, but makes up for it with an onslaught of go-for-broke gags and out-there comic set-pieces. Every time you start thinking how you've seen it all before, you find yourself laughing too hard to care.

Moments away from going all the way with his beloved girlfriend Cindi (Raquel Alessi), virginal high school senior Eugene (Zach Cregger) takes a wrong turn and ends up falling down the basement stairs. After a good conk on the head courtesy of a falling tool chest, Eugene slips into a coma. When he finally comes to in the hospital, he is distraught to discover four years have passed, his father has moved away, Cindi is now out of the picture, and virtually the only loved one that has stood beside him is goofball best friend Tucker (Trevor Moore). When Tucker locates Cindi in the centerfold of March's Playboy, he quickly formulates a plan to reunite the one-time sweethearts: hit the road for Hollywood and crash Playboy's upcoming anniversary bash, which Cindi is certain to attend. With a firefighting squad and Tucker's disgruntled girlfriend Candace (Molly Stanton) in hot pursuit for reasons best left unrevealed, Eugene and Trevor embark on a mishap-filled journey the two are likely never to forget.

That Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore are still in their twenties and have managed to write, direct and star in the best mainstream comedy so far this year is highly impressive. More seasoned filmmakers who only seem to make lame tripe, take note: this is how the genre is done. Cregger, who resembles a more charismatic Chris Evans, and Trevor Moore, who could pass for Matthew Lillard's more talented younger brother, give "Miss March" all they got, going as far as they need to in order to rustle up waves of laughter in the audience. Not every joke works, and there is an admitted lull in the third act, but it's the getting-there that most counts.

From an unbearably funny sequence involving oral sex, strobe lights and an epileptic seizure, to a scene where the scantily clad Crystal (Tanjareen Martin) accidentally bounces off a tour bus bed and right out the window of the moving vehicle, to the bawdy antics of Trevor's celebrity rapper pal Horsedick.MPEG (Craig Robinson), to a run-in with ludicrously horny lesbian chicks Vonka (Eve Mauro) and Katja (Alexis Raben), Cregger and Moore sell the material thanks to acerbic writing, expert comic timing, and superlative editing by Tim Mirkovich (2007's "The Messengers") that milks the humor for all it's worth. Even Eugene's reluctant feminine wardrobe during the trip and smaller moments, like one where a gust of wind arrives as the atrophied, hospital gown-wearing Eugene attempts to pump gas, are memorably inspired. Base jokes involving a urinating dog and overly loose bowel movements are more familiar and visually crude, but they're par for the course in this kind of film.

As actors, Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore exude confidence and shamelessness. Their characters of Eugene and Tucker, first introduced as kids playing a long-forgotten imagination-based game involving lava that took me straight back to my own childhood, compliment each other in the way that they are total opposites. Cregger is ace at playing straight-man Eugene, while Moore surprisingly avoids annoyance despite Tucker's hyperactive personality. In other roles, Craig Robinson (2008's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno") is a stitch as exaggerated rap artist Horsedick.MPEG, stealing all his scenes, and Molly Stanton displays terrific comedic sensibilities as the epileptic Candace. Finally, Raquel Alessi (2007's "Ghost Rider") is underused as central love interest Cindi. For a movie that is named after her, she is something of a non-entity until the end (and even then isn't given enough to do to make an impression).

With the exception of a sweet moment where truths are revealed about how Cindi has found herself working in the porn industry, "Miss March" rarely takes itself too seriously. That's how it should be, since the romantic angle is underwhelming and the few stabs at heartfelt emotion largely serve to uncover the plot's creaky machinations. Fortunately, the film is unabashed wall-to-wall outrageousness, high in energy and sneakily smart and knowledgeable about what it takes to tickle the ribs of the not easily offended. The picture can also lay claim to a first: an apology between an onscreen couple where the phrase, "I'll never stab you again," is meant as a genuine term of endearment. It's not exactly rocket science, but "Miss March" is fearless in what it will do, and where it will go, to give the viewer a raunchy, rollicking, 90-minute blast of pure entertainment.
© 2009 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman