[26 February 2004]
“Is it gone?” Her face puckered in concern, the first of Eurotrip‘s countless topless girls (Molly Schade) rubs an imaginary smudge from her naked breast while horny doofus Cooper (Jacob Pitts) grins at her across the hot tub. “Nope, still there!” he tells her and she keeps rubbing. (“She’s dumb!” the guy behind me gleefully realizes.) Unsurprisingly, naked girl’s friends return just as Cooper reaches to lend a hand. Caught, he feigns confusion and blurts, “This isn’t where I parked my car!” and the movie’s mixture of pointless nudity and sitcom humor is off to a rollicking start.
This unfortunate film follows four friends as they celebrate finishing high school by backpacking Europe. It opens at graduation, where Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) is dumped by his unapologetically philandering girlfriend Fiona (Smallville‘s Kristin Kreuk, enjoyably playing against type) because he, like the film’s plot, is just “so predictable.” Poor Scotty joins up with best buds Cooper and twins Jenny and Jamie (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) to drown his sorrows at an end-of-year bash, where Fiona’s man-on-the-side Donny (a tattooed, shaved-head Matt Damon, whose cameo is one of the film’s few fun elements) and his band expose Scotty’s shame to the masses with a song called “Scotty Doesn’t Know” (“Scotty doesn’t know that Fiona and me do it in my van every Sunday” and so on).
Scotty’s heartbreak lasts all of 15 seconds, then leads to his trip. He pours his heart out to longtime German pen pal Mieke (Jessica Boehrs), whom he believes to be a guy, and receives a response that seems like a come on. In one of the film’s 65,000 homophobic moments, he denounces his two-seconds-earlier good friend “Mike” as a freak and warns him to stay away. When his black-toothed little brother Bert (Nial Iskhakov) points out his mistake, he realizes that he’s crazy in love.
Though Scotty’s ability to fall in love in half a second is never examined, it raises questions about the nature of love and gender. Did he really fall in love in the moment he learned Mieke was a girl or had he slowly fallen for her/him over the course of their friendship and been unable to acknowledge it? At any rate, he determines to prove Fiona wrong and be unpredictable. He’s going to Berlin and get that little German hottie.
Eurotrip feels like a throwback to late ‘70s, early ‘80s films like Animal House, though it’s not nearly so funny or offensive to women. Even so, Eurotrip is undeniably topical. It speaks to the United States’ post-9/11 xenophobia, depicting Europeans as lecherous, amoral deviants hell-bent on corrupting cute little white American teenagers. As they transition into adulthood, the kids are hungry for experience (mainly sexual) and can’t find it in the innocent, puritanical U.S. (“This country was founded by prudes. Didn’t you know that?” Cooper educates Scotty). So they head out for some “crazy European sex.”
Eurotrip sets itself apart from most movies featuring gratuitous nudity by offering a deluge of male frontal nudity along with the female. It should be noted, however, that while the naked girls are uniformly hot, the naked men are decidedly… not. Still, if anything here can be described as “new” (though not “progressive”), it’s that the girls, by and large, are eager participants in the sexcapades. Though Fiona’s plainly skanky (“She’s a whore,” chirps Jenny), the film doesn’t pass the same judgment on Mieke or Jenny, both of whom are more than happy to begin new relationships with a bang (so to speak). Eurotrip doesn’t subscribe to the usual madonna/whore syndrome (or madonna/kinky nerd girl syndrome, as in the American Pie movies), allowing even its “nice” girls to be as up for it as the boys (“I thought I’d at least have some crazy European sex,” Jenny laments, as Cooper’s eyes go wide with glee).
But that doesn’t mean the kids’ sexual forays are healthy expressions of adolescent desire. The film’s most unsettling scene takes place when Cooper visits a freaky-deaky sex club in Amsterdam. Half-naked women (led by Lucy Lawless) purr all over him, gaining his trust, before strapping him down and raping him with twirling dildos. And then the money shot: Cooper walking stiff-legged the next morning.
Such violence enacted against a girl would have no place in a teen comedy. Here, girls’ bodies are groped, spied on, or duped into having sex through false proclamations of love and large quantities of alcohol, but they’re never physically forced. Horny adolescent boys’ bodies, however, are up for grabs, as though their desperation to get laid cancels out any right to decide who does the laying.
Such moments taint Eurotrip‘s slapstick (a series of silly pratfalls in the Vatican). A scene where the kids accidentally hitchhike to (horror of horrors) Eastern Europe seems to exist for no purpose other than to let the characters revel in their own privilege: they’re dropped off on a desolate, waste-strewn street, but soon discover that their pocket change is enough to live like royalty.
What’s missing is any sort of charm. The foursome’s travels don’t evoke the romanticism inherent in traveling abroad for the first time, nor do their loyalties ring true (the much publicized scene in which brother and sister mistakenly engage in a bout of drunken tongue kissing falls flat, as they never felt like siblings, or even people who knew each other very well). The only thing that sticks with you is “Scotty Doesn’t Know,” written and performed by Lustra and lip-synched by Damon, which turns up throughout the film (most entertainingly, as the ring on Cooper’s cell phone). It is, as Cooper comments, “a damn catchy tune.” If only the film could measure up.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/eurotrip/