Mardi Gras: Spring Break Movie Review

Title: Mardi Gras: Spring Break

Director: Phil Dornfeld

Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Josh Gad, Bret Harrison, Arielle Kebbel, Danneel Harris, Carmen Electra, Regina Hall, Becky O’Donohue, Jessie O’Donohue, Charles Shaughnessy

A surprisingly well known cast headlines “Mardi Gras: Spring Break,” a dispiriting slice of purported comedy that provides little more than a thinly stitched together parade of nudity, and denigrates the current trend of Hollywood infusion into the city of New Orleans. Nothing about this loud, unsubtle and roundly unfunny stinker merits much attention or discussion. It’s the sort of film that no cast member would bring up freely of their own volition in any interview. Heck, I believe even Carmen Electra (who cameos as herself), a woman for whom the sentiment is mostly foreign, probably feels some shame about her participation in this.

Piling unlikelihood on top of dubiousness, the plot centers around Mike (the likable but Nicholas D’Agosto, of “Fired Up!”), a Pennsylvania college senior who, when his girlfriend Erica (Danneel Harris) experiences a sudden loss in her family, decides to indulge his two best friends and head to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras. Because movies like this dictate that there must be both a virgin and a voluble fat guy, Scottie (Bret Harrison) and Bart, aka “Bump” (Josh Gad), fulfill those roles. Almost immediately upon landing in New Orleans, the trio’s quest is waylaid when they see Erica partying it up. Determined that the best revenge is partying harder, the guys try to secure a hotel room in the booked-up city. Shenanigans then ensue with Electra and a couple new girls, Lucy (Arielle Kebbel) and Ann Marie (Regina Hall), as well as Mike’s frisky twin cousins (Becky and Jessie O’Donohue).

In another parallel universe, this would be the hornball college movie, utterly divorced from reality, aimed at 13-year-olds, who would need and lap up its gratuitous nudity, and respond to its stilted jokes, wherein crowds spontaneously chant characters’ names in an effort to get them to do something. Given the Internet, however, it’s not particularly clear why this movie exists, except other than as a tax write-off.

On almost every technical level, “Mardi Gras: Spring Break” is atrocious. Director Phil Dornfeld does a poor job matching collected second unit Mardi Gras footage with his production shoot, so the movie’s stabs at creating a rousing party atmosphere fall flat. He also stages scenes in the lamest, most desultory fashion possible, to create “funny shots” wherein Mike is forced into Bump’s bare chest or some other physically compromising position. All of this is further made risible by a variety of poor framing choices and basic matching/coverage issues found in the work of cinematographer Thomas Ackerman.

There is some piecemeal — though very minuscule, it must be stressed — charm to some of Gad’s energetic rants, and a riff about cowboy costumes having “jumped the gay shark” is mildly amusing. Otherwise, however, this is a movie which tries to wring its meager laughs from a scene in which shit literally hits the fan. Josh Heald’s script is a recycled bunch of road trip cliches, and never very funny ones at that.

Technical: D

Acting: C-

Story: F

Overall: D-

Written by: Brent Simon

Brent Simon :A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International and Magill's Cinema Annual, and film editor of H Magazine. He cannot abide a world without U2 and pizza.