‘Sundown’: Film Review
Devon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette play horndog teenagers on a hormone-fueled trip south of the border.
With rapidly fading hopes of grabbing the attention of teens gearing up for summer vacation, Mexican-produced R-rated comedy Sundown from Lionsgate-Televisa’s Pantelion Films inexplicably turns up weeks after the peak of Spring Break season. Even worse than the mishandled timing, the film’s uninvolving premise, recycled plot and stock characters assure its swift disappearance from theaters prior to locking in a late-night slot on some undiscriminating premium cable network.
Also known by its cheeky Mexican title Guatdefoc, Fernando Lebrija’s second feature attempts to create a believable bromance between high-school seniors and electronic dance music fans Logan (Devon Werkheiser) and Blake (Sean Marquette), best buds whose constant one-upsmanship results in any number of ill-considered schemes. While his parents are out of town on vacation, Logan decides to bail on his housesitting responsibilities and head down to Puerto Vallarta for Spring Break after Blake persuades him to pursue his mega-crush Lina (Sara Paxton) south of the border. Logan’s secret weapons to persuade her to finally give him some face time are his father’s Rolex Submariner, which he “borrows” for the trip, and a custom dance track that he’s created on his home mixing deck and saved on a USB drive.
Once they arrive, however, they’re denied a hotel room after Blake’s booking turns out to be a bogus ripoff, but with the help of overly friendly, English-speaking cab driver Chuy (Silverio Palacios), they’re soon installed in a storage area in the hotel basement. On the streets and beaches of Puerto Vallarta the party is raging, with an endless supply of booze and bikini-clad babes to distract the pair. It’s all great material for Blake, who’s shooting footage of wet T-shirt contests and topless women on his phone for his raunchy website. At night the clubs are filled with pulsating EDM beats provided by the likes of world-class DJs Paul Oakenfold, Adrian Lux and Steve Aoki, making for an almost perfect setting for Logan, if only he could find Lina. Once she does turn up, she’s barely sober enough to stand, foiling his plan to charm her out of her tight red dress.
On the rebound, he meets local girl Gaby (Camilla Belle), another EDM fan who soon has him following her to a nearby hotel room, but he passes out before the action can even begin. When he recovers in the morning, she demands $300 he doesn’t have as compensation for their uneventful overnight and after he refuses, Logan realizes that she’s disappeared with his dad’s Rolex. Blake and Logan enlist Chuy to help them track her down at a nearby strip club, but by that point she’s turned the timepiece over to her pimp, no-nonsense gangster Dorian (Jordi Molla), who offers to sell it back to them for $5,000. Broke and dispirited, the duo will have to decide whether to return home defeated or challenge the petty criminal at his own game.
Playing like some lightweight version of The Hangover for the underage set, about all that Sundown has going for it is recognizable plot formulas combining R-rated humor and gooey melodrama, as Blake hits on practically any female within leering distance while Logan and Gaby bond over their common interests and burgeoning attraction. Lacking any characters that don’t fit easy stereotypes, the film reveals Chuy as an endlessly resourceful fixer and establishes that Gaby is only turning tricks because she’s in debt to Dorian, but really wants to quit the nightlife so that she can attend university.
Visually, the film represents a transparent ploy to promote tourism for the state of Jalisco (which provided production support), particularly among those looking for a package-tourist Ibiza knockoff. Other than some rather surprising DJ appearances, attractive scenery and beautiful bodies, Lebrija can’t find much to command attention other than an indulgently long and off-putting cock-fighting sequence that has Logan trying to raise a stake to get his watch out of hock and win the heart of his clearly compromised heroine.
Production company: Irreversible Pictures
Cast: Devon Werkheiser, Sean Marquette, Camilla Belle, Silverio Palacios, Jordi Molla, Sara Paxton, Teri Hatcher, John Michael Higgins
Director: Fernando Lebrija
Screenwriters: Miguel Tejada-Flores, Fernando Lebrija
Producers: Fernando Lebrija, Willie Kutner, Andy Boggeri, Pablo Lebrija, Regina Lebrija, Leonardo Zimbron, Sandro Halphen
Executive producers: Diego Romo, Fernando Perez Gavilan, Ricardo Gomez, Harris Tulchin
Directors of photography: Gerardo Madrazo, Pietro Zuercher
Production designer: Patricio M. Farrell
Costume designer: Lupita Peckinpah
Editors: Craig Herring, Radu Ion
Music: Edward Rogers
Casting directors: Anne McCarthy, Kellie Roy
Rated R, 103 minutes