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Behaving Badly (2014)

Vertical Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/28/2014

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/14/2014

Oh, American Pie, what have you wrought? When that film premiered in 1999, it revived the teenage sex comedy craze which had last flourished in the early 1980s with films like Porky's. American Pie brought two new things to the genre. First of all, it laid the groundwork for very raunchy, gross-out comedies which featured teen sex. Secondly, with the character of Jim, it put the nerd in the forefront and made him the one who is desperately seeking the sex. This trend has continued in movies like Sex Drive and the newly released Behaving Badly. The question is, is it time for this genre to go dormant again?

Nat Wolff stars in Behaving Badly as Rick Stevens, a stereotypically goofy teen. He lives with his trainwreck of a mother, Lucy (Mary-Louise Parker), who goes to rehab annually, his sister, Kristen (Ashley Rickards), who is a stripper, and his brother, Steven (Mitch Hewer), who is a gym-rat. Rick's best friend is Billy (Lachlan Buchanan), a shy kid who have led a very sheltered life. Rick has a major crush on Nina Pennington (Selena Gomez), but he doesn't know how to approach her. Rick's life goes into a tail-spin when he's seduced by Billy's mother (Elisabeth Shue), gets involved with local mobsters, and attempts to catch his estranged father (Cary Elwes) having an affair. How can Rick woo the prim and proper Nina when he's involved in so much debauchery?

It's been a while since we've had a good round of "I've heard of these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" Yes, Behaving Badly is simply chock full of familiar faces. Selena Gomez, Mary-Louise Parker, Cary Elwes, Dylan McDermott, Heather Graham, Patrick Warburton, Jason Lee, and Elisabeth Shue. None of those are necessarily A-list stars, but they've all been in successful films in the past. You may not recognize lead actor Nat Wolff's name, but millions saw him as Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars. So, the question is, what in the pitch by Director Tim Garrick or the script by Garrick and Scott Russell (which is based on the book While I'm Dead...Feed the Dog by Ric Browde) drew these performers to this film? Why was the novel's interesting title changed to the bland Behaving Badly? And the ultimate question: Does the film deserve the 0% which it currently holds at RottenTomatoes.com?

The only one of those questions which I can answer is the last one and the answer is no, not really. Close, but not really. Is Behaving Badly a good movie? No, but it's also not the worst thing that I've ever seen. The film's problem is that it is sorely in need of focus. Now, the point of the film is that Rick's life is spinning out of control and that many strange things happen to him in a manner of days. That's fine, but the film should never feel like it's out of control. The story jumps around too much which means that it never lands anywhere long enough to create a lasting impression and that some things seem far too random. For example, the movie wants us to believe that Rick's unhealthy relationship with his Mom is a pivotal part of the film, but it's never explored enough. And then we get things like the fact that Mary-Louise Parker plays a dual-role, also appearing as a guardian angel...something which just happens with no explanation.

The film's other major problem is that most of the jokes fall very flat. The bulk of the humor here is of the sexual and scatological variety and Behaving Badly seems to think that simply saying or showing something raunchy is funny. Well, it isn't. Thus, we have a movie filled with actors which we recognize (and possibly like) doing and saying blush-worthy things, but landing very few laughs. The funniest character by far is Billy. While he's supposed to be funny because he's socially inept and ignorant, he actually has some funny lines, most notably a brief and bizarre movie review.

Behaving Badly wants us to believe that it's a fun romp which serves up enough sexy action to make it appealing. But, the film's scattershot approach and somewhat mean-spirited feel make for a movie which feels like an endurance test than a light-comedy. I will admit that I laughed at least twice, but the fact that the movie has no idea what it wants to be made it feel much longer than its 97-minute running time. Maybe some of the actors had fun playing against type (or in Heather Graham's case, playing her most unbelievable character since Scrubs), but the viewer will find little joy in the film, as they wonder what became of people like Cary Elwes and Jason Lee.

Behaving Badly shows that a certain Disney channel star is desperate to shed her old image on DVD courtesy of Vertical Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. For a DVD, the daytime scenes show a very nice crispness, while the nighttime scenes offer an interesting amount of depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the nightclub scenes produces notable subwoofer effects. The stereo effects who good separation, while we get some good surround effects during the party scene.

The lone extra on the Behaving Badly DVD is a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long