In recent years, the teen sex comedy has become close to extinct. Quality writing and memorable performances in this genre have decreased and the much of the cinematic output been restricted to direct-to-DVD garbage and late night cable/Netflix fodder. Not Cool sadly follows in this vein and attempts to recreate some of the comedic magic and allure of American Pie and even Superbad but it is a lackluster attempt at best. Sure, there are a few decent jokes scattered throughout and the story is a tried and true formula of romantic complication but it is a film that tries way too hard with very little payoff.
YouTube celebrity Shane Dawson serves as director and star in Not Cool, the story of two pairs of friends who all experience the ups and downs of young romance. First we have Scott (Dawson), a former popular kid in high school and prom king who has returned home for Thanksgiving weekend. He runs into Tori (Cherami Leigh), a perpetually sarcastic former ugly duckling and much of the film has them butting heads and exploring other methods of “communication”. The second pair consists of Joel (Drew Monson), a creepy but good-natured geek who’s in love with the beautiful Janie (Michelle Veintimilla). Their relationship is a bit more rocky and has very strong similarities to some of the more popular John Hughes fare from the 1980s.
Not Cool is an ambitious attempt to recreate some of the comedic fire of previous (and much better) comedies before it. The unrequited love theme has been done to death and this film doesn’t really add anything new to the romantic comedy genre. Dan Schoffer’s script is well-placed in the modern digital era and the language will definitely resonate with younger crowds but it’s way too over-the-top, ludicrous and just plain corny. Dawson and the rest of the crew have taken what feels like a ridiculous YouTube video and stretched it out to form a very cheesy feature-length motion picture. The results, sad to say, are unimpressive and unnecessary.
Few teen comedies today manage to entertain and deliver a meaningful message. The actors in Not Cool are actually pretty talented and at times, rather funny. Drew Monson is particularly engaging as Joel, a long-haired lovable loser with an effeminate voice and an unhealthy yet intriguing obsession with one of school’s hottest girls. His character is so unique and so interesting that he alone almost makes up for the film’s unfortunate shortcomings. Cherami Leigh’s snarky Tori is annoying and spends the majority of the film pushing away audiences with her unappealing personality.
It would seem that Shane Dawson is trying to get rich quick with his YouTube videos and now with Not Cool. He’s a good-looking guy, that’s for sure and in this film, he exhibits a modest amount of charm but the film as a whole is just a raunchy mess with no real point. The jokes are few and far between and the love stories are cliché and tired. The actors need a better script, that way they can really stretch their legs and shine, especially Drew Monson, who is without a doubt, the star of this clunky cinematic vehicle.
Not Cool will be released theatrically on September 19th, 2014 and digitally on September 23rd, 2014