Friday, April 27, 2012

REVIEW: The Roommate (2011)

Hey, guys, I’m here today to talk about the great new PG-13 lighthearted comedy, The Roommate! I don’t know why it has 4% on Rotten Tomatoes! It’s such a fun-filled romp! It’s got charmingly pretty characters, a nice college setting that will show your pre-teens what college is going to be like and lots and lots of hi-larious jokes and slapstick/body humor, as well as a nice romance on the side to keep you hopeless romantics suckered in. What could possibly go wrong?

Director: Christian E. Christiansen
Starring: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly

The Roommate starts out with some happenin’ modern rock music as our main character Sara gets to college in her shiny yellow car on a bright, sunny day with lots of other smiling, hair-gel-infested Dawson’s Creek rejects. She’s so cool that she goes to a party the first night and turns some guy down at first, yet kisses him anyway when he helps her drag her drunk friend to the elevator:

He goes so far as to spill beer on Sara just to talk to her, then has to help her carry her drunk friend away and he STILL doesn't get laid!

I’d call her a slut, but The Roommate takes a twist and has these two become boyfriend and girlfriend for the rest of the movie! Because every romantic comedy needs a couple to focus on and nothing says romance for a college frat boy like drunken debauchery and the girl turning him down and yet teasing him in a really bitchy way anyway...well, actually I shouldn't be sarcastic about that, because it's probably really true.

Then we meet Rebecca, Sara’s roommate. Rebecca doesn’t want to have a nickname, so that must mean she's insane:

"We oppose anyone who doesn't like nicknames!"

Sara starts going out with the other girls to clubs and parties and stuff, and hijinks ensue when one of the girls leaves her there on her own even though she doesn’t know the area! Rebecca comes to meet her later, and she and Sara go walking around town, taking pictures for their Facebook profiles (which will never actually be shown, considering the makers of the movie could not pony up enough money to use Facebook’s likeness in the film). Then Sara reveals that she tattooed her sister’s name onto her chest in remembrance of her tragic death several years earlier! Ha ha ha! Oh, how silly…wait, I think that was supposed to be a serious part…maybe…?

Rebecca then takes things into her own hands and attacks the one preppy partier girl in the shower, threatening her if she ever comes near Sara again. Gee. This scene could have almost been in a horror movie if she had actually done anything harmful to the girl, but all she does is pull out her belly ring and say “You’re a bad influence on her!” Ha ha! Oh, man, that is over the top.

Then Sara finds a cat outside and takes it back to her dorm, naming it Cuddles, because every romantic comedy needs a good cute animal. After that, Rebecca starts to do all sorts of nice things for Sara to show her affection, like putting up posters of her favorite movies and buying tickets to see art shows she likes. However, Sara already has plans – romantic plans!

Don't worry, it's a PG-13, so you won't actually see anything during this scene...

This leaves Rebecca alone in the room to call Sara's ex boyfriend, pretending to be Sara and telling him to stop calling her all the time, which he has been doing all movie up until now. Oh the hijinks that could possibly ensue from to admit, though, it is pretty stupid how the ex boyfriend can't seem to tell that it isn't really Sara on the phone. That's stretching things a little too far.

And then because Sara wants to move in with some other friend of hers, Rebecca kills the cat by putting it in a dryer:

The Roommate: it advocates the killing of kittens!

You know, I would cite this part as one of the movie’s flaws, except frankly I’ve seen worse in Will Ferrel movies anyway.

Then it’s statutory rape fun time as their teacher Billy Zane puts the moves on Sara and kisses her, and as she tells Rebecca very calmly, Rebecca forms a plan. She then immediately goes and seduces him, records the whole thing on a random tape recorder she happens to have on her at the time and twists things around to make it look like he came onto her instead of what actually happened. This is clearly one of the cleverest scenes in the film, showing Rebecca's almost Bugs Bunny levels of trickery as she gets the teacher to quit his job the very next day! Odd. This could almost be a serious plotline, if handled in a more dramatic film, but The Roommate just uses it as a comedic device to make us laugh.

The Roommate: it advocates statutory rape!

Afterwards, Rebecca cons Sara into going back home with her by pretending to get stabbed and beat up – hilarious! – and they go to meet her parents. There we see that in another wacky twist, even though they’re her parents, they’re scared shitless of her. She also takes Sara out around the town and we see that every other kid in town is scared of her, too, even this one girl who she drew a ton of pictures of and stalked, or something, I guess...maybe. I don’t exactly know what this scene is going for, it's incredibly confused and poorly explained, but since it’s got almost no drama or weight to it, I’ll assume it’s a funny scene again just so I don't have to think too much about anything. Hallelujah for that!

Also note that Rebecca’s mom asks Sara if Rebecca has been taking her medication, which Sara and her new boyfriend find later hidden in a drawer! Apparently she hasn’t been taking it at all! So yeah, this crazy girl who goes around killing kittens in dryers and manipulating everyone around her while obsessing over various girls who give her attention, SHOULD HAVE been on medication this whole time! Is the movie suggesting that anyone who is on medication, if taken off, would become a psychotic serial killer? And for that matter, how did she even get into college if she was this ready to fly off the hook for no reason, without being provoked or anything? Shouldn’t she have been in a mental ward somewhere? This movie had better handle these delicate matters tastefully. Hmph. I expect nothing less from a teen comedy film.

Back at school, Sara’s ex boyfriend who has been harassing her over the phone the whole movie comes to visit her. How suspenseful; a love triangle! Finally the more romantic side of The Roommate comes to light. I was beginning to think this was one of those movies where the romance was just phoned in and contrived…can’t imagine that with The Roommate though.

So long story short, Rebecca kills him with a knife while pretending to be Sara, imitating a scene from Single White Female as much of the movie has done so far…ew, what are these horror elements doing in my teen comedy? That's just grotesque and not funny at all.

Reminds me of a scene in Black Christmas. Odd for a teen film...Black Christmas was pretty brutal at times.

But what is funny is lesbian sex!

What, you really think it’s cheap to use this as a throwaway gimmick this late into the film? Pfft. You PC wimp. Don’t be such a prude.

Sara gets a text from her friend who she’s living with, who is also the same woman Rebecca was hitting on at the nightclub, telling her to come to the apartment. There, she and Rebecca end up in a hilariously over the top shouting match in which Rebecca shouts at Sara for not appreciating her wonderful attempts at friendship like killing Sara's cat and ex-boyfriend…see what I mean? This movie is the cutting edge of ludicrous, bizarre comedy. It's almost like some kind of weird black indie comedy or something. It's nice to see the movie playing around with genre conventions a bit and giving us at least something new.

The fight that ensues is almost as funny, with a lot of it centering on having Sara dangling from an open window ledge…somehow, I guess. Sara tells Rebecca they aren’t friends, stabbing her in the back metaphorically, followed by stabbing her in the back physically with a knife! Oh The Roommate…always playing with my expectations. Then the movie ends with happy music and Sara deciding that she “doesn’t want to have a roommate for a while”…get it? She's underplaying the seriousness of the situation by giving a lighthearted ending quip! That's a considerate way to end the film, as now we won't be depressed due to the deaths of several people as well as an innocent kitten.

So yeah, all in all, The Roommate wasn’t bad and actually took a few risks for a teen comedy, like having dark almost horror-movie-esque lighting (in fact it's...almost hard to see anything at times) and introducing some deviously placed scenes that could have possibly been tense or dramatic, but playing with our expectations and making them lighthearted and comedic instead. The film also sneaks in some more risque jokes, like trying to make us think it's believable for Rebecca to think the terrible things she did to Sara are signs of a good friendship. That's pretty daring for a teen movie intended for kids who aren't even old enough to drive yet.

But most of the movie is still pretty conventional, and tells the classic story of a crazy girl falling over her feet and going to ridiculous lengths to please her dense and un-knowing new roommate. It's got some light laughs and a few pretty clever moments. Sure, the acting isn't great and there are a few plot holes, but mostly it's passable enough. I mean, it's not like this movie was trying to be serious or anything! Imagine if The Roommate was intended to be a horror movie, for example. Then it would have just been a horribly cliched, emotionally stunted, poorly written and hacked up pile of steaming wretched manure with no taste or class.

Luckily it isn’t intended to be serious at all. Luckily.

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