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Premature (2014)

IFC
DVD Released: 11/4/2014

All Ratings out of

Movie:
1/2
Video:

Audio:

Extras:
1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/20/2014

The name Danny Rubin may not be specifically familiar to you, but it should as he wrote the original screenplay for Groundhog Day. While Director Harold Ramis made changes to the story, the original idea for Phil Connors to be in a "time loop" belongs to Rubin. Now, this certainly wasn't the first story to feature a "time loop", as this had been featured in short fiction and an episode of The Twilight Zone (Wasn't everything originally on The Twilight Zone?), but it's the one that is most familiar to modern audiences and it's become a pop-culture touchstone. So, does Rubin just sit around and roll his eyes when another "It's like Groundhog Day..." movie comes along? That most likely wouldn't be his only reaction to Premature.

Oh man, how am I going to describe Premature and not get too graphic? As the film opens, teenager Rob Crabbe (John Karna) awakens from an erotic dream only to find that he's had a Nocturnal Emission (look it up). Unfortunately, his mother (Katie Kneeland) barges in and sees the mess. Arriving downstairs, Rob's father (Steve Coulter) coaches him for his big interview with the recruiter from Georgetown University. Rob is joined by his best friend, Stanley (Craig Roberts), on the way to school, and once there, he talks to his gal-pal Gabrielle (Katie Findlay). Rob's day really takes a turn when his long-time crush, Angela Yearwood (Carlson Young), invites him over to study. But, to do this, he must blow off his plans with Gabrielle. Rob goes to Gabrielle's house, she hits on him, he gets too excited, and awakens in his bed to find that his day has started all over again. Rob quickly realizes that the day is going to keep repeating itself and that he can re-start it by having an orgasm. Will he be able to make the day perfect?

OK, you've got to hand it to Co-Writers Dan Beers (who also directs) and Matthew Harawitz, as they have come up with a unique twist on the decidedly stale Groundhog Day plot. Yes, the pitch is very easy to summarize -- "It's Groundhog Day meets any modern teen sex comedy" -- but, one must applaud that fact that someone actually came up with this idea. Not only is it ingenious, but it also works as a nice allegory of high school life, where every day can feel exactly the same and a young manís quest for sex can seem unending. They have wisely chosen to avoid anything truly outlandish, as Rob's day is filled with several significant events, but nothing which feels unbelievable.

However, once the main premise is introduced in Premature, the movie doesn't know where to go. I love Groundhog Day, but I can admit that it gets a bit bogged down in the middle. The same certainly goes for Premature. The danger of any movie with this plot is that it can become redundant and that is certainly true here. Watching someone do something over and over again, even if details are changed, is a tricky endeavor and this film doesn't pull it off. The other issue is that in order to combat this, the script goes off of the rails. As noted above, the main events of Rob's day are grounded in reality. But, as things go on, Premature gets more and more loopy culminating in Rob getting into a fight which can't be taken seriously.

As a comedy, Premature whiffs as well. There are a few funny lines here, but the movie is never consistently funny. This derives from the fact that it's not sure from where the laughs should be coming. On the one hand, the movie focuses on a teenager who is at an early cross-roads in his life and he's faced with some big decisions. On the other hand, this is a gross-out movie about a guy with messy underwear. Premature has a difficult time walking that tight-rope between poignant and Porky's, as we are treated to a clever bit of dialogue, followed by yet another masturbation joke.

I really wanted to like Premature, as the concept is incredibly brash and the characters are likable for the most part. However, the funniest line in the film comes early on and the ending is far too predictable. In this sense, the movie took some chances, but it couldn't finish the job. Much like Rob.

Premature allows Rosie Larsen to finally get some screen time on DVD courtesy of IFC. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is clear, showing on overt grain and no defects from the source materials. However, I did note that the picture wasn't especially sharp. The detail of the image breaks down at times and can look pixellated. There was on-screen text which was difficult to read and despite the fact that I was watching a DVD, it looked like streaming video at times. That aside, the colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The school hallway scenes provide some noticeable stereo and surround effects which show good separation. The in-film music offers a contribution from the subwoofer. Some of the surround effects are nicely distinct.

The Premature DVD contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Dan Beers. The DVD brings us interviews with Beers, Co-Writer Matthew Harawitz, Alan Tudyk, Katie Findlay, Craig Roberts, Carlson Young, John Karna, Adam Riegler, and Producers Karen Lunder and Aaron Ryder. These vary in length and offer those involved the opportunity to talk about the plot and their involvement in the film. "Behind the Scenes with John Karna" (7 minutes) has the star of the film wandering the set, pointing things out and interacting with the crew. The "Alternate Ending" (4 minutes) simply offers a longer coda. The final extra is the TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long