One of the things that I miss from the 2000s is the young adult raunch comedy. It’s a genre that’s existed for years and was frankly never very good. Yes there were exceptions, including the “American Pie” franchise, “Harold and Kumar” and “Eurotrip.” Then “Superbad” came along in 2007, and effectively broke the mold. The genre kind of fizzled out at that point.
Yet earlier this year, we got a great one. “Blockers” absolutely worked as a teen raunch comedy, while it was buoyed by some adult performers. The movie was wickedly funny and featured some A+ teen antics. A kid got thrown through a wall. In some way, that’s what I was hoping for when I threw on “The Package.” Sadly, it doesn’t hit those highs. Yet any millennial will find some worthy jokes and humor along the way.
“The Package” follows a group of teens going on a hiking trip for their spring break. All of them have complicated histories. They’re all super dumb as well. Leading the pack is Daniel Doheny (“Alex Strangelove”) as Sean, who recently returned from his study abroad in Germany. His best friends Donnie (Luke Spencer Roberts) and Jeremy (Eduardo Franco) want to go hiking for the weekend. When Jeremy’s twin Becky (Geraldine Viswanathan) breaks up with her boyfriend, Becky and best friend Sarah (Sadie Calvano) tag along. The fivesome is up to no good when Jeremy, playing with a switchblade knife cuts off his own dick. Yes, seriously. After he’s airlifted away, the other four race against the clock to return his dick on time for it to be reattached.
The movie is dumb and silly. Once you buy in on the general antics, there are some high points. A pre-teen trying to extort the girls into some same-sex hijinks is psychologically scarred by being shown the dick. At another point, one of the boys has to suck the venom out of the dick because it got bit by a rattlesnake. The movie skirts some scenes that could be seen as gay panic, which makes it about 50% less offensive than this movie would have been in the ’90’s.
There’s also a pretty diverse cast of kids in this film. Of the five, two are people of color. Not necessarily changing the game in any huge way, but enough to be a positive step. It also features some talent that is on the way up in Hollywood. Viswanathan is solid, and combined with “Blockers” should be another step towards being an up and coming comedy star. Doheny is pretty funny, and rather than just be the bro/geek that is somehow possible in this movie, he delivers some genuinely funny physical comedy. Calvano gets most of the good one-liners and makes them work. It’s a solid supporting role. As a group, the kids come together nicely and elevate the material slightly.
Really the best part of the movie is the commitment to the premise. There are definitely way dumber movies that could have been made about this. That’s where many of this kind of movie falls short. The credit goes to Jake Szymanski, director of other underseen comedies “Tour de Pharmacy” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” There’s also considerable producing power behind it, including Ben Stiller, Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm. You’d be surprised on spec, but the final product wouldn’t surprise you. With funny physical comedy and a group of young actors willing to commit, there’s a genuine and somehow positive film about young adult friendships.
Overall, “The Package” is a fun and entertaining movie for what it is. I’ll be honest, my gut reaction was to pan it. Yet 24 hours after the fact, I actually find it pretty funny. It’s not as bad as you would think. It’s also not a movie I’d recommend to everyone. So, if you’re in the mood for a throwback young adult comedy with a bunch of kids willing to degrade themselves for comedy, check it out. It might actually surprise you too.