The Binge is upon us.
The one thing almost all teenage comedies have in common is partying, usually involving drugs and alcohol in excess, so the premise of The Binge already feels invalid; it’s been marketed as The Purge but with teenage drinking and drugs, but teenagers, whether on screen or in real life, will always find ways to party harder than the law allows them to.
The Binge follows best friends Hags (Dexter Darden) and Griffin (Skyler Gisondo) as they participate in ‘The Binge’, a 12-hour period where underage drinking and drug-use is not only legal, but encouraged, for the first time. Griffin is dying to ask Principal Carlsen’s (Vince Vaughn) daughter Lena (Grace Van Dien) to the prom and to win her heart, he has to meet her at the biggest Binge party.
There isn’t a whole lot to the plot of The Binge. Director Jeremy Garelick’s film is influenced by other similar comedies, most obviously Superbad and Booksmart, as they all include a group of friends attempting to get to a party. Whereas Superbad and Booksmart aren’t actually about the parties or the booze, but rather friendships and that difficult phase in your life where everything is changing, The Binge is only really about partying. While it occasionally hints at something more meaningful – Hags desperately claims this is the last chance for the two to become legends – it never deepens the characters or their friendship.
Bizarrely, The Binge also features two actors already seen in Booksmart last year, Skyler Gisondo and Eduardo Franco – who plays Andrew – the third wheel to the main pair. Gisondo is one of the funniest comedic actors of his generation and The Binge could have been the ideal opportunity to show off his leading man talent and versatility, but Garelick is too busy spraying the actor with cow’s milk straight from the udder to let that happen. Franco is also delightful and manages to squeeze out a few laughs from the viewer but is let down by a script that doesn’t play to his strengths.
The Binge spends an awful lot of time joking about the character’s genitals, and for a moment, it seems like it might dive into a more meaningful exploration of masculinity and how it is often driven by recklessness and performativity. The more you drink and sniff cocaine, the more masculine and cool you become in these types of films. The Binge works as an example of American drinking and party culture, but it simply doesn’t have anything to say beyond that.
The biggest problem is that it just isn’t funny. You can often forgive and forget the problematic nature of a disposable film like The Binge if it is at least entertaining enough to make you laugh, but the jokes go on too long and lack any real humour. On many occasions it seems like a film made at least a decade ago that hasn’t aged particularly well. Just when you thought you’d seen the worst the film has to offer, the characters suddenly burst into song, but not all of them can sing and dance, making it a thoroughly awkward and cringe-worthy number.
Despite a few good performances and a surprisingly wild performance from Vince Vaughn, The Binge might just be the worst film 2020 has to offer with zero laughs and a lot of problematic, outdated material. It offers nothing new and borrows too heavily from other, better films that came before, making it an unoriginal and missed opportunity for everyone involved.
The Binge will stream on Hulu from August 28.
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