Lionsgate // 2012 // 100 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // October 17th, 2012
Not all vacations are created equal.
Judd Apatow is the poster child for comedy in the first decade of the twenty-first century, but if anyone can claim to be a pretender to the throne, it's Todd Phillips, whose flicks -- from Road Trip to Old School -- earned lots of laughs and decent box office. Everything congealed for him with The Hangover, which struck a nerve and made the veteran into a kind of overnight sensation. It's no surprise, then, that the imitators have come out of the woodwork. One example is Mancation, and it's a barrel-scraping ode to behaving badly that's best avoided.
Vince (Matt Kawczynski, The Beast of Bray Road) is the anal-retentive overachiever type, but now that he's married, things go seriously awry just one day after the wedding. His friends (including Joey Fatone of 'N Sync fame) decide to take him to Atlantic City for a "mancation" of wild, drunken insanity. Hilarity is supposed to ensue.
I don't have the energy to be too harsh with Mancation. Yes, it's a third-rate knockoff of a popular film that comes three years after its inspiration was released (and even a year after the sequel to its inspiration; talk about being behind the curve). Yes, it's a lame comedy that tries to entice with celebrity casting and an "unrated" tag. No, it doesn't really deliver on the promise of either. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're going to be an independent film working in an established genre, you've got to offer something viewers can't see in a mainstream film. If Mancation had taken the Hangover formula one step further, with more nudity, more celebrity cameos, or more filthy, drunken antics, then it might have stood a chance. It does none of these things.
Why, then, would any self-respecting viewer want to watch Mancation? Well, the flick is pretty far outside the 'N Sync fan demographic, but I know there are some serious Joey Fatone worshippers out there. Well-wishers can see their hero try his hand at acting after a string of reality TV appearances in everything from Dancing with the Stars to Singing Bee. The haters will appreciate watching him in a film that is likely beneath even his meager talents, debasing himself for reasons that are beyond understanding. I mean it's not like he got a fat paycheck for appearing here, nor is his appearance high-profile enough to be likely to win him other roles. But I digress...
The film also gets some mileage out of being an unrated "man" comedy that features Danica McKellar (a.k.a. Winnie from The Wonder Years), serving an audience of guys who would appreciate seeing their childhood crush in a flick like this.
With its "unrated" status, there's the requisite cursing, vulgarity, and nudity to satisfy those looking for something more "adult." Though it's far from shocking in the era of Apatow, Mancation at least tries to live up to what adult-oriented comedy can be and squeezes out a few reluctant laughs in the process.
Though it's hardly a pull-out-all-the-stops Special Edition, Mancation gets a decent DVD release. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is fine for the material. Detail is decent, black levels passable, and colors appropriate. No serious digital artifacts mar the surface, though this was obviously a film lacking a large budget. The 5.1 surround track is wasted on a dialogue-heavy comedy, but there are some attempts at directionality and the balance is great between dialogue and music. Extras kick off with "Jake Cam!" a behind-the-scenes featurette that follows actor Jake Matthews through some of the filming. There's also a short featurette on the character BLAH, as well as a set of outtakes and deleted/extended scenes. An in-joke "commercial" for the product Bonerall featured in the film is included as well. Finally, the film's trailer is available as well.
Mancation is going to appeal to the tiniest of niche audiences. With recycled laughs, only a so-so attempt at "unrated" humor, and a plot borrowed from a three-year-old hit comedy, Mancation doesn't have a lot going for it. For those curious about the film -- largely because of the presence of Joey Fatone or Danica McKellar -- this DVD is a fine way to see it, but anything more than a rental is pushing it.
Guilty, but that's the point.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Deleted Scenes