Spring BreakdownI feel like establishing a few things up front here:
1 Spring Breakdown is not a terrible movie.
2 – despite the lackluster reactions after its Sundance premiere and its inauspicious dumping to DVD, I still expected more from this buddy comedy starring Parker Posey and Amy Poehler.

Let’s go over a few things this movie does have:

Reliable comedic leads (Parker Posey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch) – check
Easily recognizable and generally stalwart costars (Jane Lynch, Seth Meyers, Will Arnett) – check 
Catchy title – check

It’s genuinely hard to tell what’s missing in the sometimes-funny-sometimes-painful 84 minutes of this film. The premise (three luckless “nerds” go to South Padre to experience spring break in their 30s since they never did it in their own youth) is no worse than most R-rated comedies. The script is passable and manages its own fair share of laugh-out-loudable jokes. But something about the film doesn’t click, and it may well be the over-the-top stereotypes employed at every turn. The “cool” girls are bleached blonde bimbos in bikinis while the “uncool” girls are brunettes who wear outdated clothes, love Amy Grant, Scrabble and eating, and only get birthday presents from their pet cats. Only Poehler’s character, a dog trainer who has a hinted-at history of obesity, bridges the gap between “cool” and “uncool” and in so doing provides the majority of the film’s truly comedic moments as well as its brief morality lessons – you know, the stuff about being yourself and treating others with respect and whatnot. On a positive note, screenwriter/director Ryan Shirakihas left out most of the standard life-lesson banter that accompanies a film like Spring Breakdown, which makes for more time spent on comedy and less on stilted “be a better person” speeches.

Ultimately though, Spring Breakdown is a movie that could have been better. After the drably expositional first 15 minutes – which found me checking my watch and trying to remember exactly how long 84 minutes really is – it seems like the film finds its sweet spot and ticks off some surprisingly inventive comedic moments. Though the film never truly soars – in fact it sputters out about 15 minutes before the end – there’s still plenty to enjoy. Knowing that Parker Posey is capable of deadpan comedy (Waiting For Guffman) and dryly fascinating drama (Broken English), I was most disappointed in her by-the-numbers portrayal of Becky, a timid political assistant. Spring Breakdown can be a charming diversion at times, but in the end – like the bimbos it mocks – it’s a little too empty to stick in your memory.

Zach’s Rating: 6 (out of 10)

To purchase Spring Breakdown, visit Amazon

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