If nothing else, Shane Dawson’s Not Cool represents an interesting illustration of artistic license. One of two films sponsored by the Starz reality competition show The Chair, this film is so tonally different from the other entry, Anna Martemucci’s Hollidaysburg, that it’s a wonder they were both made from the same original screenplay by Dan Schoffer. The films are vying for a $250,000 prize based on multiplatform voting, and let’s just say that if Hollidaysburg doesn’t win a recount is in order.
The storyline, set in a small Pennsylvania town and concerning the interactions among a group of former high school friends reuniting during a Thanksgiving college break, is roughly the same. Former prom king Scott (filmmaker Dawson) is dumped by his girlfriend Heather (a wildly over the top Jorie Kosel) but finds a new romance with former ugly duckling Tori (Cherami Leigh) who has blossomed into a quick-witted beauty. Meanwhile, Scott’s sister Janie (Michelle Veintimilla) finds herself relentlessly wooed by the supremely dorky Joel, (Drew Monson) who almost manages to win her over thanks to the extensive knowledge about her he’s gained via the Internet.
But whereas Martemucci treated the material with sensitivity and gentle humor, Dawson, who’s earned fame and fortune via his extensive YouTube presence, has apparently taken such raunchy teen comedies as Porky’s for his inspiration. Filled with ethnic stereotypes, scatological humor, profane language and characters who are not so much caricatures as cartoons, Not Cool well lives up to its title.
From its opening voiceover describing sex with various vegetables to its homeless black man who proudly proclaims “I’d rather eat my own shit!” and proceeds to do just that before later exposing his genitalia to the repeated scenes of girls being vomited on, the film traffics in relentlessly unfunny vulgarity. Other examples include Heather’s rapturous encounter with a glory hole and Scott taking revenge on her after the break-up by taking a dump on her lawn.
“Why weren’t you into poop stuff when we were together?” she asks forlornly.
Oh, and let’s not forget the posted tally of rapes occurring at a raucous party. Or the endless humiliations of gay, obese and blind characters
Of course, all this might be semi-excusable if the results managed to actually be funny. But laughs are virtually non-existent.
Save for Leigh, who exhibits a sassy charm as the freewheeling Tori, the performers are unable to rise above the low-rent material. Tech credits are similarly unimpressive, with the frenetic editing only accentuating the strained nature of the proceedings.
Production: Point Park University, Shaderville, Steeltown Entertainment
Cast: Cherami Leigh, Shane Dawon, Drew Monson, Michelle Veintimilla, Bill Laing
Director/editor: Shane Dawson
Producers: Lauren Schnipper, Shane Dawson, Josh Shader
Executive producers: Chris Moore, Corey Moosa, Carl Kurlander, Deobrah L. Acklin, George Long, Lisa Smith-Reed, Paul hennigan, Ronald Allan-Lindblom, Frederick Johnson, Nelson Chipman
Director of photography: Frank Paladino
Production designer: Hillary Gurtler
Composer: Joseph Carillo
Casting directors: Nancy Mossa, Katie Shenot
No rating, 93 minutes