National Lampoon's Senior Trip
1995 Directed by Kelly Makin. Starring Matt Frewer, Valerie Mahaffey, Lawrence Dane, Tommy Chong, Kevin Mcdonald, Jeremy Renner, Rob Moore, Eric “sparky” Edwards.
REVIEWED By Robert Faires, Fri., Sept. 15, 1995
Remember in high school how there was one kid who had a wise-ass comment for everything and no matter how snide it was or how crude, it always cracked everybody up? Remember how there was also some goof who thought he was as funny as the wise-ass but wasn't? Whenever Wise-ass made a crack that got a big laugh, Goof would wade in with a line he knew would get the same reaction, but it just lay there, still and stiff like a dead bird. Well, this film is that goof. You get the feeling that somebody involved in Senior Trip really thinks it's in the league of the franchise's first hit, National Lampoon's Animal House, that its gross-out gags and smutty yucks will make viewers roar the way that film's did. But every time Senior Trip cops a bit from Animal House -- or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure or Fast Times at Ridgemont High or The Simpsons or Mr. Smith Goes to Freakin' Washington (the film is next to nothing but lifts from other shows) -- we're in dead-bird land. The comedy just lies there -- flat brain wave, no vital signs. I blame the screenplay by Roger Kumble and I. Marlene King, which whizzes past opportunities for genuine comedy to get to more recycled gags from Up in Smoke, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Caddyshack, then cops them so ineptly as to make those flicks look like contenders for the Palme d'Or. Early on, you can see director Makin's efforts to infuse the film with some of the same snap he brought to episodes of TV's Kids in the Hall, but midway through, he seems to have been overwhelmed by the extremely lame script. The clichéd climax, with the loser kids accepting their good-hearted if anal principal, then being applauded by a roomful of senators for “telling it like it is” (puh-leeze!), is staged without a shred of irony. The “teen” actors are uniformly bland, exhibiting almost no comedic savvy. Matt Frewer tries singlehandedly to compensate for this by overacting (and exceeds the posted limit of 55 facial tics per minute). We do get a few chuckles from Mahaffey (Northern Exposure) and McDonald (Kids in the Hall), but in the end, the material defeats them, too. This Trip goes nowhere, save to the same slag heap that contains National Lampoon's European Vacation, National Lampoon Goes to the Movies, and National Lampoon's Class Reunion.