I really believe EUROTRIP is a great unsung comedy and, in fact, one of the best comedies of the '00s. It's a perfect example of what can happen when smart people attempt something dumb. DreamWorks’ amiable teen sex comedy was written, produced, and directed by a trio of Harvard graduates whose credits include NATIONAL LAMPOON, SEINFELD, and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
What David Mandel, Alec Berg, and Jeff Schaffer (who takes sole directing credit to appease the DGA) have cobbled together is a surprisingly charming formula movie that offers plenty of satisfying lowbrow comic bits, as well as several clever out-of-left-field moments that suggest the filmmaking trio may be too bright for the material. What EUROTRIP also supplies in healthy doses is good old-fashioned nudity of both the male and female varieties. Hollywood in recent years seems to have forgotten that teenagers like to see beautiful naked teenagers, so Mandel, Berg, and Schaffer make up for past offenses by splashing enough skin on screen to fill a century of Coppertone ads. And lest you believe the nudity is entirely gratuitous, a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD homage set on an all-male nude beach provides one of EUROTRIP’s most inspired comic setpieces.
The plot is a simple one, designed solely as an excuse to parade its youthful cast through the Prague locations unconvincingly disguised digitally as various European cities. Scott (Scott Mechlowicz), reeling from a graduation-day dumping by girlfriend Fiona (SMALLVILLE‘s Kristin Kreuk in a vampy cameo), discovers that his German pen pal, “Mike,” whose e-mails he blocked when he believed Mike was coming on to him, is actually Mieke (pop singer Jessica Bohrs), a major hottie who was saving herself for him. Desperate to make amends with her, Scott recruits slacker pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts) and twins Jamie (Travis Wester) and Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) for a backpack trip across the continent, where they encounter a series of comic misadventures: an overly amorous Italian (Fred Armisen), a rowdy rugby team led by Vinnie Jones (SNATCH), a goose-stepping little boy, a losing battle with absinthe that summons a profanity-spewing fairy (Steve Hytner), a Eurosmoothie named Christoph with an eye for Jenny, a Bratislavian MIAMI VICE junkie, and a Dutch dominatrix named Vandersexxx (Lucy Lawless), to name just a few.
Thanks in part to EUROTRIP’s game cast, none of the potentially embarrassing or incendiary comedy feels offensive or forced. Of the leads, only the former child actress Trachtenberg is a familiar face, and she certainly has matured into a game foil, equally at home playing the tomboy Jenny as the film begins and the sex bomb into which her European coming-of-age transforms her. Mechlowicz brings a Tom Hanks-ish charm to his role (don’t forget Hanks started out in similar ventures like BACHELOR PARTY), although it’s the sarcastic Pitts who steals the film with a funny performance that perfectly walks the line between likable and obnoxious.
Is EUROTRIP the SEINFELD of sex-and-slapstick teen comedies? Besides a few surface resemblances in the characters, both offer similarly anarchic and occasionally un-PC comic styles that reach beyond the conventions of their genres. I’m not ready to anoint a movie that contains the finest robot-mime kung fu battle ever filmed as the heir apparent to one of TV’s all-time smartest comedies, but there’s much to admire about EUROTRIP. Including, of course, the finest robot-mime kung fu battle ever filmed.