Review: ‘Jackass Forever,’ starring Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, ‘Danger’ Ehren McGhehey, Chris Pontius, Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuña, Sean ‘Poopies’ McInerney and Zach Holmes

February 4, 2022

by Carla Hay

Danger Ehren and Johnny Knoxville in “Jackass Forever” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios)

“Jackass Forever”

Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Culture Representation: Taking place in the Los Angeles area, the comedy film “Jackass Forever” features a cast of predominantly white people (with some African Americans) performing physically painful stunts, as well as playing pranks on each other and some unsuspecting people.

Culture Clash: This group of comedic pranksters push themselves to the limit in how far they will go to get laughs, even if some members of the group object to how dangerous these stunts can be.

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of fans of MTV’s “Jackass” TV series, “Jackass Forever” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in movies where adults engage in a lot of cringe-inducing antics.

Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Steve-O, Dark Shark, Dave England, Zach Holmes, Eric Manaka, Jasper, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, and Danger Ehren in “Jackass Forever” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios)

“Jackass Forever” delivers everything you’d expect it to deliver to “Jackass” fans: a compilation of gross-out comedy stunts and silly pranks. The movie doesn’t try to pretend to be anything else, although some parts of the movie are unnecessary filler. “Jackass Forever” reunites many of the original cast members of MTV’s “Jackass” reality TV series, which was on the air from 2000 to 2002, and spawned many spinoff series and movies.

“Jackass” was created by Johnny Knoxville (the franchise’s biggest star and on-screen ringleader), Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze. Knoxville, Tremaine and Jonze are producers of “Jackass Forever,” while Tremaine is the movie’s director. Jonze and Tremaine make brief on-camera appearances in “Jackass Forever.”

If you’re easily offended by movies that have numerous scenes talking about and showing naked male genitalia and bodily functions, then “Jackass Forever” should be avoided. However, people who can tolerate this type of comedy will find something to laugh at in “Jackass Forever.” Almost everyone seeing this movie will have some kind of awareness that anything with the “Jackass” franchise name on it will have crude and sometimes nauseating comedy. Pity any uptight person who sees this movie and is completely clueless beforehand on what to expect.

In “Jackass Forever,” Knoxville is joined by other members of the original “Jackass” cast: Steve-O (whose real name is Stephen Glover), Chris Pontius, Dave England, “Danger” Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy and Jason “Wee Man” Acuña. Original “Jackass” cast member Ryan Dunn died in a car accident in 2011, at the age of 34. (“Jackass Forever” flashes a brief tribute to him during the end credits.)

Bam Margera, another original “Jackass” cast member, was set to be in “Jackass Forever,” but he was reportedly fired after failing a drug test. (He tested positive for Adderall.) Margera has since had disputes with the “Jackass” team, and Tremaine filed a restraining order against Margera. “Jackass Forever” has some archival footage of “Jackass” where Margera can briefly be seen. Margera is not in any of the new footage that’s in “Jackass Forever.”

Also part of the “Jackass Forever” on-screen team are Sean “Poopies” McInerney (a self-described “Jackass” superfan) and Zach Holmes. The large sizes of Holmes and Lacy are used in a “Triple Wedgie” challenge with Wee Man, who happens to be a little person. Holmes, Lacy and Wee Man are wearing white mawashi-styled (sumo wrestler) loincloth in this wedgie challenge. It’s a scene in “Jackass Forever” that might offend some people who think body sizes are being exploited and ridiculed in this scene.

“Jackass Forever” has made some attempt to bring more diversity to the “Jackass” on-screen team. There’s a token female: Rachel Wolfson, the only woman who’s part of this prankster group. She actually has more stamina than many of the men in the group, who scream in terror at things that Wolfson can endure with silent aplomb. And there are some African Americans who are new to the “Jackass” franchise: Eric Manaka and Jasper (no last name) are both presented as part of the main group too. Jasper gets the most screen time out of all three of them.

“Jackass Forever” also has some celebrity cameos, with the unsuspecting celebs getting pranked. Musician/actor Machine Gun Kelly (also known as Colson Baker) gets sucker punched into a swimming pool in a stunt with Steve-O involving a stationary bicycle challenge and giant toy hands. Comedian/actor Eric André also gets blindsided: He’s hit with a giant tube-shaped balloon that bursts out of a beverage truck where André thinks he’s getting a free cup of coffee. Hip-hop music artist Tyler, the Creator is a pianist in a skit where he plays music while members of the “Jackass” team wear tuxedos and dance on a floor that gives electroshocks through the floor. Tyler, the Creator doesn’t escape these electroshocks either.

“Jackass Forever” has some stunts that are somewhat boring and over-used, compared to others. There’s a high-flying stunt with members of the group doing BMX riding on a “human ramp,” with the expected bike crashes and falls that ensue. Another stunt shows some members of the “Jackass” group dressed up as a marching band, and they walk on a treadmill, which predictably results in more tumbles and bruises. Knoxville catapults a soccer ball at Steve-O when he comes out of a production trailer on the movie set.

And there are explosions galore. Steve-O is using a porta potty when it explodes on him. In the movie’s opening sequence, another porta potty explodes on him, with feces (or something that looks like feces) flying everywhere and splattered all over Steve-O. In another scene, Knoxville, dressed as Icarus, explodes himself out of a cannon. Knoxville comments on this cannonball experience: “It feels like a 200-pound colonic up my ass!” And the movie ends with different types of explosions, involving vomiting on a Tilt-A-Whirl and being attacked by paintball gun attacks.

In one of the funniest scenes, England portrays a potential customer at a fake yard sale on someone’s front lawn. Unbeknownst to the people browsing at this yard sale, there’s a toilet “for sale” that’s been rigged to explode. First, England sits on the toilet as if to use it, while unsuspecting people look on in shock and disgust. No sooner does he sit on the toilet, then it explodes, as people react with horror. It’s a stunt that “Jackass” has done before. “Jackass Forever” features some other recycled stunts, with a select number of the original stunts shown in archival footage.

And speaking of doing “Candid Camera”-type of pranks on unsuspecting people outside of the group, “Jackass” has a few more. One of these pranks is when Knoxville reprises his disguised persona as an elderly grouch named Irv Zisman. As Irv, he goes into a furniture store with Wolfson (who plays Irv’s granddaughter), while Holmes pretends to be another customer. Holmes then falls from the second floor of the store and crashes into a piece of furniture that catapults Knoxville up like a cannon and causes Knoxville to crash through a ceiling.

Some of the most memorable stunts tap into the biggest fears that the “Jackass” team members have: damage to genitalia and being trapped somewhere with a wild animal that can cause bodily harm. Steve-O volunteers to have his naked genitals covered in bees. Lacy puts his genitals in a hole in a box and gets the genitals pummelled by mechanical fists.

Pontius encloses his penis in a ping-pong paddle device and “plays” with himself. (Use your imagination.) Wolfson says to him: “You’ll never be president [of the United States].” Poopies then jokes, “You never know. I’d vote for him.”

Danger Ehren endures the notorious Cup Test, where he wears a plastic cup guard over his genitals, but still voluntarily undergoes assaults to his groin area. His genitals are subjected to hard punches from mixed-martial-arts heavyweight Francis Ngannu; torpedo-like softball pitches from softball player Erin O’Toole; a hockey puck whacked by hockey player P.K. Subban; and pogo stick jumping from Poopies.

Animals that can kill humans are brought into the mix to bring on more terror. (In most cases, an animal trainer is nearby to prevent things from getting out of control.) Wolfson undergoes a “Scorpion Botox” challenge, where she has to let a scorpion bite her on the lip more than once. Poopies, England, Danger Ehren and Holmes are set up in “The Silence of the Lambs” challenge, where they are put in a dark room with a poisonous snake on the loose. In another stunt, Poopies loses a “mime” challenge and has to kiss a rattlesnake, which does exactly what you think it will do.

Jasper’s father—who goes by the nickname Dark Shark and is a self-described former gang banger—is recruited as a guest “Jackass” team participant. Dark Shark literally faces off against Danger Ehren in a challenge involving them wearing astronaut-sized glass helmets connected by a long tube. A large spider is then dropped into the tube, as Dark Shark and Danger Ehren frantically try to get the spider to go to the other person’s side of the tube and into the other person’s helmet. Later, Danger Ehren has the spider bite him on a nipple. Someone quips about the spider bite swelling the nipple: “Ehren went from a [bra size] AAA to a B.”

And there are two separate stunts involving “Jackass” guys being tied up and used as food bait for wild animals. The first of these stunts that’s shown in the movie is with a brown bear that is let loose in a room with Danger Ehren, who has honey and salmon poured all over his crotch. In the other stunt, Wee Man is tied up outdoors, with meat placed on him for a vulture to eat. Dark Shark is goaded into letting the vulture on his arm, and he shrieks that the vulture is biting him, when the vulture actually isn’t. Jasper than mutters on camera that he’s embarrassed by his father at that moment.

And it should come as no surprise that “Jackass Forever” uses semen (human and non-human) as part of the shenanigans. The movie’s opening sequence is a scripted scenario where members of the “Jackass” team are making a “monster on the loose” disaster movie, using miniature sets made to look like New York City. Pontius’ genitalia is used as a penis-sized dragon puppet running amok on the streets. You can guess that this dragon doesn’t spout fire but instead spouts something else on people. There’s another part of the movie where an unsuspecting England gets buckets of pig semen dumped on him. “I’m a vegetarian!” he says in disgust after finding out what was dumped on him, while everyone nearby laughs.

Even though “Jackass Forever” has a lot of high-risk stunts and pranks, a few of the stunts are tedious and weren’t worth putting in the movie. In one set-up, Knoxville instructs Wee Man to catch the much-larger and much-heavier Lacy and hold Lacy up in the air above his head, just like the famous dance move that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey did near the end of “Dirty Dancing.” But this “Dirty Dancing” stunt never happened, because Lacy announces that he defecated on himself and pulls down his pants to prove it. (At least he gave enough advance warning, so viewers can look away.)

The anal fixation continues in a stunt where Steve-O is in a water tank, with the idea that he will fart underwater, and a methane-filled device nearby will cause an explosion. But apparently, the “Jackass” people don’t know basic chemistry about gas and water mixing, because this “experiment” doesn’t work until they bring in a methane blowtorch to force an explosion. It’s a stunt that’s ill-conceived and looks more like a clumsy outtake than something that deserved to be in the movie.

Don’t expect “Jackass” to show anything about the individual personal lives of these stunt/prank daredevils. Most of their personalities are indistinguishable from each other. Exceptions are obvious group leader Knoxville (who carries around a small taser that he uses to randomly zap people on the “Jackass” team) and Steve-O, who has long had the reputation of being the “craziest” of the “Jackass” team. Steve-O is the one most likely to laugh at himself and others during the most insane moments.

Out of everyone in the group, Danger Ehren gets the most methods of “torture” inflicted on him in “Jackass Forever,” by doing the most dangerous and nerve-wracking stunts that leave him bloodied and bruised. Knoxville does even more damage to himself, but from one stunt: While recreating a previous “Jackass” stunt where he tries to be like a bull matador in a pen with an angry bull, Knoxville (dressed as a magician) gets knocked out by a charging bull. He’s then shown being carried out on a stretcher, and then later getting out of a hospital. After being discharged from the hospital, Knoxville tells the camera that his bull-charging injuries were a broken wrist, a broken rib and a concussion.

As a disclaimer, “Jackass Forever” has warnings before and after the movie that all of the stunts were performed by professionals and shouldn’t be attempted by anyone else. It’s kind of a “covering our asses legally” façade though, because everyone knows that “Jackass” has inspired an entire industry of daredevil (mostly male) pranksters who want to be stars on social media for doing idiotic things that could cause bodily harm. As dopey and reckless as the “Jackass” franchise can be, if the purpose is to make people laugh, then “Jackass Forever” fulfills that purpose, although some people might laugh more than others.

Paramount Pictures released “Jackass Forever” in U.S. cinemas on February 4, 2022.

Review: ‘Midnight in the Switchgrass,’ starring Megan Fox, Bruce Willis and Emile Hirsch

August 31, 2021

by Carla Hay

Megan Fox and Bruce Willis in “Midnight in the Switchgrass” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“Midnight in the Switchgrass”

Directed by Randall Emmett

Culture Representation: Taking place in Florida, the dramatic film “Midnight in the Switchgrass” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Law enforcement officials try to capture an elusive serial killer who targets prostitutes for murder.

Culture Audience: “Midnight in the Switchgrass” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching boring, forumlaic and predictable crime dramas.

Lukas Haas and Megan Fox in “Midnight in the Switchgrass” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

It’s quite a stretch to call “Midnight in the Switchgrass” an “original movie,” since this formulaic dud recycles every movie/TV cliché about cops looking for a serial killer who targets prostitutes. If you’ve seen any movie with the same concept, then you know exactly what to expect in “Midnight in the Switchgrass.” A derivative film might be mildly acceptable if there was some excitement in the story or if the characters had charisma.

But the filmmakers of “Midnight in the Switchgrass” made no attempt at having anything in the movie that that could be described as “suspenseful” or “surprising.” And the cast members look like they’re just going through the motions. There are zombies that have better personalities than almost all of the characters in this dull and dreary crime drama.

Directed by Randall Emmett and written by Alan Horsnail, “Midnight in the Switchgrass” doesn’t even have a clever title. The movie’s title refers to a switchgrass field in Florida where the killer keeps some of his victims captive in a hidden storm tunnel. Switchgrass is also mentioned as a place where one of the serial killer’s murder victims used to hide as a child to escape from an abusive father. The movie takes place mostly in Florida’s Pensacola area, where two cops from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are on the hunt for the serial killer. (This movie was actually filmed in Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.)

“Midnight in the Switchgrass” has probably gotten more publicity for being the movie set where co-stars Megan Fox and Colson Baker (also known as musician Machine Gun Kelly) fell in love. Fox separated from her actor husband Brian Austin Green after finishing the movie. She and Baker went public with their romance after that. It’s probably the only thing that people will remember about this dreadful movie.

Fox and Baker have just one very short scene together in “Midnight in the Switchgrass,” near the beginning of the film. She portrays an undercover cop named Rebecca Lombardi, who usually goes undercover as a prostitute. (How stereotypical.) Baker plays a sleazy pimp named Calvin “Calxco” Colton, who’s got Rebecca in a motel room, and he wants her to do some prostitution work for him, but she’s stalling.

The sting almost goes awry when Calxco starts to get rough with Rebecca, and it seems as if he won’t let her leave the motel room. She fights back in ways that show she’s not a typical hooker but someone who’s got combat skills. Luckily, Rebecca was able to alert her police colleagues through audio surveillance, and the cops arrive in time to arrest Calxco.

One of the colleagues who worked with her on this sting is Byron Crawford (played by Emile Hirsch), an earnest cop with a very fake-sounding Southern accent, thanks to Hirsch’s terrible acting in the movie. Byron ends up taking the lead on the investigation into the prostitute murders that are plaguing the area. Byron and Rebecca want Claxco to give information about who’s been murdering prostitutes and dumping their bodies along the highway. Claxco gives a clue about what the suspected killer’s truck looks like, and then Claxco isn’t seen in the movie again.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because the investigation of this prostitute-murdering serial killer uses the same formula as other similar movies and TV shows. The obligatory grizzled and jaded cop veteran is FBI agent Karl Helter (played by Bruce Willis), who’s only in about 25% of the movie. Translation: “Midnight in the Switchgrass” didn’t have the budget to hire Willis in a role where he would get most of the screen time. Willis looks like he’s just there for the easy salary, and he looks completely “checked out” emotionally in this movie.

The only important thing that Karl tells the Florida cops is that the federal government doesn’t want to get involved in finding this serial killer. And so, Byron and Rebecca do most of the legwork to solve the case. And you know what that means: Rebecca is going undercover as a hooker again, so that she can be bait for the serial killer. You can almost do a countdown to when she gets held captive by the serial killer. (And it would be easy to predict, even if it wasn’t shown in the movie’s trailer.)

Through surveillance footage, the cops find out that the serial killer is most likely a truck driver, because many of the murder victims were last seen at or near a truck stop. There’s even surveillance video of one the of murder victims being forced to leave with him. And sure enough, the killer really is a truck driver. The movie’s trailer shows his face, so it’s not spoiler information to reveal that the killer is a married father named Peter (played by Lukas Haas), who’s been leading a double life.

Predictably, Peter has a “Jekyll & Hyde” personality: He’s mild-mannered and quiet to most people, but he’s a rage-filled monster when he’s alone with his victims. He doesn’t kill all of his victims right away, but he keeps them tied up in the storm tunnel to torture and sexually assault them. Peter also has a barn with a locked door to hide a lot of evidence related to his murders. Because the movie reveals early on who the serial killer is, there’s no mystery or suspense. The screenplay for “Midnight in the Switchgrass” is so lazy and generic, there’s not even an explanation for why Peter turned out the way that he did.

It must be frustrating for aspiring filmmakers who have truly original ideas for movies but can’t get the financing for these movies to be made, while unimaginative junk like “Midnight in the Switchgrass” is churned out, just because some actors with well-known names signed on to the project. You can almost hear the thought process of the “Midnight in the Switchgrass” producers: “Sure, there’s already a lot of movies and TV shows about cops looking for a serial killer, but this movie doesn’t have to be good, as long as we might make a profit from it.”

“Midnight in the Switchgrass” is the type of sexist movie where almost all of the adult female characters have shallow, underdeveloped roles as prostitute crime victims or dutiful wives/mothers at home. Peter has a wife named Karen (played by Lydia Hull) and a daughter named Bethany (played by Olive Elise Abercrombie), who’s about 7 or 8 years old. Peter’s wife and daughter have no idea that he has this secret life as a serial killer. Byron has a baby daughter named Bella with his wife Suzanna (played by Jackie Cruz), who does nothing in this movie but fret over her husband

And the movie doesn’t really care to give the prostitute victims any real personalities. They have names like Heather (played by Sistine Rose Stallone), Chastity (played by Katalina Viteri), Tracey (played by Caitlin Carmichael) and Sarah, who has no dialogue in the movie because she’s already dead. Peter’s victims are typically all young and pretty.

In one unrealistic scene, one of the prostitutes invites Peter into her motel room before they even discuss the price of her services. You don’t have to be a sex worker to know that’s just not the way they do business. A sex worker wouldn’t invite a potential customer to a room until the sex worker knows first how much the customer is going to pay.

As for undercover cop Rebecca, she’s one of the few women in the movie who isn’t a prostitute or a dutiful wife/mother. However, she still spends about half of her screen time pretending to be a hooker. It’s just an excuse to have Fox in a movie where she has to dress like a prostitute and spend a considerable amount of screen time being tied up in the scenes where she’s been kidnapped.

There’s a half-hearted attempt to make Rebecca a little feisty, but the dialogue is so bland for all of the characters, viewers who have the misfortune of sitting through this dreck will have a hard time remembering any specific lines of conversations after the movie is over. If you make it to the end without falling asleep, you’ll find that “Midnight in the Switchgrass” fails to live up to its description as a “thriller,” since there is almost nothing in this horrific misfire that is thrilling.

Lionsgate released “Midnight in the Switchgrass” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on July 23, 2021, and on Blu-ray and DVD on July 27, 2021.

Review: ‘Big Time Adolescence,’ starring Pete Davidson

March 13, 2020

by Carla Hay

Griffin Gluck and Pete Davidson in “Big Time Adolescence” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

“Big Time Adolescence”

Directed by Jason Orley

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. suburban city, the comedy/drama “Big Time Adolescence” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A high-school student’s close friendship with an older guy who’s a stoner ends up being problematic for the student.

Culture Audience: “Big Time Adolescence” will appeal primarily to people who like male-centric coming-of-age stories or stories about young people partying.

Pete Davidson and Griffin Gluck in “Big Time Adolescence” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

“Big Time Adolescence” is just another way of saying “Overgrown Man-Boy,” which is the typecast persona that “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson has cultivated for himself so far in his entertainment career. It’s exactly this type of person that Davidson plays in this comedy/drama, where his Zeke character is an irresponsible stoner in his early 20s who’s a bad influence on high-school student Monroe “Mo” Harris (played by Griffin Gluck), who is Zeke’s best friend.

Viewers know this from the beginning of the story, which shows in the opening scene that Mo is getting taken out of his classroom by a police officer. And Mo says in a voiceover that it’s Zeke’s fault that Mo got into this mess. What exactly is the mess that has gotten Mo in trouble with the law?

Most of the rest of the movie shows what happened that led up to this moment. In a flashback to six years earlier, Mo became friends with Zeke when Mo was about 10 years old and Zeke was about 16. At the time, Zeke was dating Mo’s sister Kate (played by Emily Arlook), who eventually broke up with Zeke because she suspected that he was cheating on her. The night that they broke up, Mo asked Zeke if he and Zeke could still be friends. At first, Zeke doesn’t think it’s good idea, but Mo insists and Zeke relents, and off they ride in Zeke’s car.

Over the next six years, Mo and Zeke have become close enough that they consider each other to be “best friends” and have what might be considered something like an older brother/younger brother relationship. Now 16 years old, Mo hasn’t made any real friends in high school. His social life revolves around hanging out with Zeke and Zeke’s fellow dimwitted stoner friends, which include Danny (played by Omar Shariff Brunson Jr.) and Nick (played by Colson Baker, also known as rapper Machine Gun Kelly).

Mo isn’t a complete loner at school. He’s on the baseball team, but he does not excel there. He’s not good enough to be frequently chosen for playing on the field during games, and it adds to his insecurities. Mo wants to quit the team, but his supportive parents Reuben and Sherri (played by Jon Cryer and Julia Murney) urge him to not give up.

Zeke goes to watch Mo at baseball practice, where he sits far away from Reuben and Sherri and is shown to be the loudest and most irritating spectator on the benches. Instead of giving Mo tips to improve his baseball playing, Zeke encourages Mo to not take a swing when he’s at bat and instead take the lazier option of base on balls (also known as a walk) to get to first base.

Zeke has his own house that he inherited from his late grandmother. It’s party central at the home, but somehow, up until a certain point in the story, Mo has managed to never get stoned, although he does partake in underage drinking when he’s with Zeke. Even though it’s entirely believable that Mo declined to smoke marijuana while being Zeke’s friend, what’s harder to believe is that Mo never got a contact high from all the years of partying with Zeke and his friends.

The movie shows Mo’s first “contact high” with Zeke much later in the story, when a stoner friend from Zeke’s murky past just happens to see Zeke and Mo while they’re out driving in Zeke’s car.  Zeke’s long-lost pal wants to catch up and get high for old time’s sake and makes Zeke close all the car windows while they smoke blunts.

Even though Mo spends a lot of time with hard-partying Zeke, Mo is very sheltered when it comes to dating. It’s revealed in the movie that not only is he a virgin, but he’s also never been on a date or kissed or girl. Considering the kind of person Zeke is and how he pushes Mo so hard to be a reckless partier, it’s kind of unrealistic that Mo didn’t get involved in drugs sooner. We’re supposed to believe that during the relatively short period of time that this movie takes place (about a month or two), Mo’s life suddenly took a downward spiral because of Zeke.

What flipped this switch? For starters, Mo got his driver’s license, which allows him to have more freedom. The other thing that happens is that Mo unexpectedly gets a chance to hang out with some of the “cool” older kids in school. But there’s a catch.

He’s invited to his first high-school house party by a fellow nerd named Will, who goes by the nickname Stacy (played by Thomas Barbusca). Stacy says that he was invited to the party because Stacy promised the older kids that he would bring alcohol, but Stacy doesn’t know how to get alcohol and he needs Mo to get the alcohol through Zeke. In return, Mo will get to go to the party as Stacy’s guest.

When Mo tells Zeke about the party, Zeke immediately sees it as an opportunity to sell some of his marijuana and make a profit. He tells Mo that Mo has to be the one to sell the weed at the party because Mo is underage and the legal consequences won’t be as severe if he gets caught. Mo is extremely reluctant, but since he idolizes Zeke, Mo is convinced to do it. As part of the deal, Zeke says that he will split the profits with Mo.

Things go much better at the party than Mo expected. Not only was he instantly accepted because he brought alcohol and marijuana, but he also got to connect at the party with a fellow student named Sophie (played by Oona Laurence), who’s been a secret crush of his from afar. Sophie is smart with a sarcastic sense of humor. She finds Mo’s awkwardness endearing, even though she’s trying to hide some of her awkwardness too.

Mo felt so good about his first party experience with his high-school peers that he jumps at the chance when he’s invited to another house party soon afterward. At the first party, he and Zeke made a tidy profit from the drug sales, so Zeke wants Mo to keep selling marijuana at these parties. Zeke has even quit his job as a sales clerk at an appliance store because he figures that he can make enough money by overcharging high school students for drug sales, so he doesn’t have to work.

Zeke literally tells Mo all of this, but naïve Mo still acts surprised that Zeke doesn’t want a job and would rather sit back and let Mo do all the dirty work in the drug deals while Zeke reaps the monetary benefits. Mo protests and says his drug dealing at the party was just a “one-time thing.” But once again, Mo gives in to whatever Zeke wants because Mo is desperate to look “cool.”

That desperation is reinforced when an attractive older girl approaches Mo at school and asks him if he can score her some molly, which she wants him to bring to the next house party. Feeling buoyed by this attention, Mo says yes and asks Zeke for help to get some molly. Of course, Zeke has the molly that Mo requests, along with a stash of other drugs that are randomly lying around his house.

Reuben and Sherri sense that Zeke isn’t a very good influence on Mo, but they still let Mo hang out with Zeke because Mo seems to be doing well-enough in his school academics and they don’t want Mo to resent them for being too restrictive. Reuben is more suspicious of Zeke than Sherri is. In a private moment alone with Zeke, Reuben even gives Zeke same cash to keep Mo out of trouble. Zeke takes the money. But then, like the smarmy person that he is, he asks Reuben for a raise. Reuben just has to shake his head and walk away.

Meanwhile, Mo starts a budding romance with Sophie. She’s his first date and first kiss. But once again, Zeke interferes by advising Mo to play hard to get after a while, in order to manipulate Sophie to like Mo even more. Zeke has a girlfriend named Holly (played by Sydney Sweeney), who is nice to Mo and very tolerant of Zeke’s childish ways. Holly parties with Zeke and his friends, but she also does things like cook for Zeke and make his house more domestic.

Unbeknownst to Mo and Holly, Zeke is still in love with Mo’s sister Kate, who is planning to go to law school. Zeke and Kate have a parking-lot hookup in Zeke’s car, but it’s an encounter that she immediately regrets and tells Zeke that it won’t happen again. She has also moved on to a responsible live-in boyfriend named Doug (played by Esteban Benito), who is the type of ambitious art-collecting yuppie that Zeke despises but secretly envies.

We know that Zeke is insecure about not measuring up to someone like Doug because not long after meeting Doug (when Mo convinces Zeke to drive him over to Kate and Doug’s place), Zeke and Mo go to an art museum (it was Zeke’s idea of course), where Zeke tells Mo that he can appreciate art too. But viewers see how unsophisticated Zeke is when he foolishly thinks he can buy one of the paintings on display and offers a museum employee cash on the spot. (Whatever amount he offered was also obviously laughable.) Zeke has to settle for buying an oversized print at the museum gift shop instead.

The movie doesn’t really show what kind of academic student Mo is, but it’s implied that he’s probably good enough to consider going to college. However, Mo is definitely not “street smart.” He doesn’t realize until it’s too late that his new “social status” at school is very superficial because it’s about people using him to get drugs.

Mo’s relationship with Zeke is a little more complicated because of the big brother/little brother relationship they’ve had over the years. As Mo says about Zeke near the beginning of the film, “He was the man and he made me feel like the man.” But this type of co-dependence has now turned dark, as Mo gets more involved in dealing drugs to fellow students. The movie doesn’t let Mo off the hook so easily by portraying him as a completely innocent child corrupted by an adult, because despite Zeke’s influence, Mo still knew right from wrong and had a choice to do what he did.

As Kate tells Mo, it’s weird that Zeke wants to be best friends with a teenager, and it’s only because Mo makes Zeke feel cool. But to the rest of the world, Zeke isn’t cool. Mo ignores Kate’s warnings about Zeke. But there are signs that Mo knows she’s right, such as when Mo mentions to Zeke that he’s thinking of introducing Sophie to Zeke, but Mo asks Zeke to not make the moment into “The Zeke Show.”

Davidson has made a career of being an often-obnoxious, immature guy who’s not as funny as he thinks he is. Zeke is that kind of person too, so if you’re not a fan of Davidson, his Zeke character is going to wear very thin because it just seems like Davidson is playing a version of himself for the entire movie.

“Big Time Adolescence” is the first feature film from writer/director Jason Orley, who also directed Davidson’s “Alive From New York” Netflix comedy special. If Orley and Davidson continue to work together, it’ll be interesting to see if they can do something different from the same “man-child” shtick that Davidson has been stuck on repeat in doing. The Zeke character is almost a caricature because there’s no real depth to him, and the movie tells almost nothing about his background.

Because the movie revealed from the beginning that Mo gets arrested, there’s not much suspense to “Big Time Adolescence.” And it’s certainly not an original idea to do a movie about teenagers and young adults who like to party. But what saves this movie from complete mediocrity is Gluck’s authentic and sometimes emotionally touching performance as Mo, because Mo (not Zeke) is ultimately the one who grows up and is the character in the movie that audiences will care about the most.

Hulu released “Big Time Adolescence” in select U.S. cinemas and began streaming the movie on March 13, 2020. The streaming premiere date was moved up from March 20, 2020.

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