Film Review: Desperados
Streaming on Netflix: 07.03
It’s sad when bad movies happen to good people. Nasim Pedrad, a former Saturday Night Live cast member, is a highly talented and appealing actress who unfortunately can’t catch a break when it comes to feature films. It would seem, in theory, that landing the lead role in a comedy would be a step up from playing second fiddle to pretty much everyone in Guy Ritchie‘s atrocious version of Aladdin—and still managing to be the only saving grace to that film—but not if that comedy is Desperados.
Wesley (Pedrad) is a neurotic 30-something who is feeling unfilled, as she is unable to land either a job or a boyfriend. When she meets Jared (Robbie Amell), she thinks her problems are solved. However, when he disappears for five days after they sleep together, Wesley gets drunk with her two best friends (Anna Camp and Sarah Burns) and composes the nastiest email ever written, only to find out after sending it that Jared was in a car accident in Mexico and has been stuck in a coma. Wesley panics, and talks her friends into going with her to Mexico to help her break into Jared’s hotel room and delete the email.
There are many problems with this film, but let’s start with the fact that it can’t decide whether it wants to be While You Were Sleeping or Bridesmaids. The tone is all over the place, and the steady onslaught of R-rated humor fails to produce a single laugh. The screenplay by Ellen Rapoport is so busy trying to ensure that it covers everything from sex toys to a graphic sequence involving Wesley getting a CGI dolphin penis rubbed against her face that it forgets to portray any of it in the form of comedy. Could we at least get a Moby’s Dick joke? (I know that’s a whale—it still would have worked). And worst of all, it makes a recurring bit out of an awkward misunderstanding that leads people to believe Wesley is molesting and pursuing a pubescent boy.
The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that the film is not without glimmers of a spark, in the sense that both Pedrad and Lamorne Morris (New Girl), who plays a bad blind date of Wesley’s who gets pulled into the shenanigans, are quite charming and could easily make even a mediocre film work based on their presence. And when it backs off of the gag-inducing gags and gets more dramatic, it actually has some good things to say about appreciating the people who care about you most. But all of this is lost in the demolition derby pileup of attempted comedy.
First time feature director LP, aka Lauren Palmigiano (who seems to be on a quest to make us take McG seriously in comparison) can’t really be blamed for the bad script or weak production values, but she gave me no reason to be interested to see what she might do with better material, which is really a shame, because we certainly need more female voices in Hollywood. But in the end, the biggest failing of Desperados is that it doesn’t have a very high regard for women.
Despite it all, I’d still love to see Pedrad in more starring roles, and, if nothing else, I feel confident that most of her future projects can’t get a lot worse. –Patrick Gibbs