Title: I Melt With You

Directed By: Mark Pellington

Starring: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Arielle Kebbel, Tom Bower

In an industry overflowing with content, it’s getting tougher and tougher to come up with something new. The fallback? The shock factor – writers and directors giving you something, letting you get comfortable with it and then pulling out the rug from under you. Sure, if this technique works, it could blow your mind, but, in the case of I Melt With You, it merely turns your mind into senseless mush. You know that old “this is your brain on drugs” commercial with the egg? Change the voice over to “This is your brain on I Melt With You.” Get the picture?

College buddies Richard (Thomas Jane), Ron (Jeremy Piven), Tim (Christian McKay), and Jonathan (Rob Lowe) gather for their annual weeklong celebration of their friendship. No, the guys don’t pack up and head to Vegas for some wild nights on The Strip or even go south for an exotic tropical getaway; the foursome rents a house in Big Sur and basically live in non-stop party land courtesy of an endless supply of booze and a pharmacy full of prescription drugs.

The drugs come from Jonathan, a doctor whose intentions once were noble, but now is a frequent under-the-table prescription med distributor. Ron has his issues, too. A family man who honestly loves his wife and children, Ron gets sucked into a scheme that could result in him losing everything he’s earned. Tim’s just resurfacing from his own drama, a car accident that took the lives of people he loves. Then there’s Richard, an aspiring writer who gave up his dreams and settled on teaching. Problems, disappointments, grievances, you name it; in this vacation house, there’s nothing a few pills, some booze and loud music can’t take care of – kind of.

Sounds a bit like The Hangover, right? Well, yes, that’s how I Melt With You starts out, and it’s rather fun. The film begins with the obligatory introductions, showing the guys go from home to Big Sur and giving the viewer a taste of who they are as individuals. Then, once the group is fully assembled, the party begins – and these guys party especially hard. Director Mark Pellington doesn’t hold back in the least when it comes to his camerawork. As the group descends deeper and deeper into the abyss of their drunken/high stupor, Pellington drags you down right along with them via some snazzy visual techniques ranging from fuzzy frames, to the use of slow motion and disorienting camera movements. It’s legitimately a trip.

Sure, that might sound like it works for this type of film and this type of material, but as previously mentioned, these boys party long and hard and it’s certainly far more than the average person can handle, whether in reality or experiencing it vicariously through the film. There’s so much drinking, pill popping and head spinning, I Melt With You can quite literally knock you off balance. Another problematic element of the party scenes is the reality of them. I’m no doctor, but I’d like to bet if anyone ever shoveled as many pills into his or her mouth as Lowe’s character does at one point in the film, they’d drop dead instantly. And, on a lesser level, a group of guys who partied that hard night after night would simply need a break at some point.

Regardless, I Melt With You manages to hold your attention for about 45 minutes. From the moment the party begins, you know something eventually has to happen. In fact, that’s something Pellington sets up quite well. Even while the boys have a blast, Pellington infuses the film with a dark undertone, giving it a beautifully foreboding sensation. Then, when the big event happens, it is fairly powerful, but that still doesn’t give the film license to go where it goes next, which is so out of left field and downright absurd, it winds up ruining the entire experience. What starts as a somewhat honest scenario spins wildly out of control, all the while still taking itself incredibly seriously, making it all the more ridiculous.

On the acting front, the leading foursome gives it their all and while it’s appropriate in terms of selling the material, you can’t help but to wonder how long Pellington had them running around that vacation house like lunatics. It really can’t be said enough; these guys party hard. When the script requires them to up the drama, everyone seizes the opportunity, but there’s just no way to save this script. Then there’s poor Carla Gugino who plays a local cop. First off, she gets the most nonsensical introduction possible. After the guys arrive at the house, Pellington cuts to some scenic shot of Gugino overlooking the landscape. Not only is it unnecessarily long, but for someone who doesn’t know who Gugino is, there’s really nothing about the shot that says, “This person is important.” And maybe that’s because she isn’t. After that shot, we don’t see Gugino again until about an hour and 15 minutes into the film.

Beyond poor script structuring and some silly editing choices, Pellington still manages to show off some notably stimulating visual tricks. Then again, in the context of the film, that’s really all the camerawork is, showing off. Writer Glenn Porter tries to get you to fall for his characters and enrapture you with their situations and while he does get close to doing so, rather than run with it, he veers in a whole different direction basically turning I Melt With You into a disturbingly freakish genre hybrid.

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: C-

Overall: C

By Perri Nemiroff

I Melt With You Poster
I Melt With You Poster

By Perri Nemiroff

Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

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