Our Take: 2/5 Stars
Senior year of high school is a significant time in the life of a young adult. Faced with the prospect of leaving your hometown and the friends you have known your entire lives, many high schoolers view their senior year as the “last chance” to make memories that will last a lifetime.
It is a universal feeling that many look back upon fondly. Maybe this nostalgia, mixed with the excitement of those not yet graduating, is the reason that the “high school party” genre of film is such an enduring one.
From Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s “Superbad,” to Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart,” the teen comedy is an enduring genre of cinema. The latest, released on August 28th, is the Hulu distributed film “The Binge.”
Written by Jordan VanDina (“SuperMansion”), and directed by Jeremy Garelick (“The Wedding Ringer”), “The Binge” follows high school seniors Griffin (Skylar Gisondo, “Vacation”) and Hags (Dexter Darden, “The Maze Runner”) as they attempt to make lifelong memories at the end of their high school careers.
Having recently turned eighteen, they are now eligible to “binge.” This introduces the contrived premise of the film — in this world the United States has established a strict era of prohibition after a period of widespread and dangerous drug and alcohol use. The one exception to this prohibition is the yearly binge.
For one night, all drugs and alcohol are legal, and Griffin and Hags plan to participate in this rite of passage for high school seniors and create memories and a legacy that will last a lifetime.
The “Purge-like” premise is intriguing enough, but it is not fleshed out enough to really set this film apart from other teen comedies.
While “The Binge” seems to be an important plot device to progress the story, it mainly serves as an excuse to increase the scale of the partying and the amount of drugs and alcohol portrayed and consumed.
The whole film feels like a drug-induced trip, with a wild cast of characters and an increasingly far-fetched series of events that lean into the overindulgence of the concept.
Instead of deeper exploration into post-high school anxieties, fear of friendships fading and self discovery, “The Binge” opts for cheap, vulgar jokes and shock humor. The writing and story is predictable and derives from many played-out teen comedy tropes. While some of the dialogue is clever, the innuendo, subtext and foreshadowing are so obvious that many plot twists can be seen a mile away.
A promising concept and up-and-coming cast led by star Vince Vaughn (“Wedding Crashers”) unfortunately missed the mark and resulted in a film that is disappointingly unoriginal and shallow.
Many movie-goers are familiar with the concept of the “suspension of disbelief.” The term is used to describe the idea of willful repression of logical thinking for the duration of the movie. But even with suspension of disbelief, the errors of the film are too many to miss.
From a random and extremely awkward dance number, to the unexplained casting change in the middle of a scene, to hypersexualized and forced interactions, the film’s reliance on shocks and raunchy humor becomes dull and repetitive.
Still, the film is not devoid of bright spots. The chemistry between Gisondo and Darden is evident and shines through despite forced events and interactions.
Throughout the film, the dialogue between the two is realistic, charming and sometimes funny. Vince Vaughn’s performance is largely average, but there are a few moments when his natural humor and magnetism shines through.
The plot twists, while predictable, are heartfelt and appealing, even if they do not lead to the deeper catharsis that the characters seem to need.
All in all, the film is largely a disappointing addition to the classic teen comedy film, but, if one decides to indulge in this drug-crazed frenzy, fleeting moments of genuine heart and relatable humor could redeem this mostly shallow story.
“The Binge” is now available to stream on Hulu.