Judge David Johnson wonders if there is a lot of urine-drinking on college campuses these days.
She's got it all…and he's not getting any.
When I see these college comedies prefaced by "National Lampoon's," I tend to shudder. Recently, the vast majority of flicks of this ilk have proven to be crude-for-crude's-sake, unfunny trash. Imagine, then, my surprise when this little film bucked the trend and offered a quality, amusing, even semi-touching viewing experience. National Lampoon…is that you??
Facts of the Case
One day, Adam (Cameron Douglas) meets Eve (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and they connect. Both college students, Adam bides his time perfecting his rock star look and musical techniques while trying to survive his day-to-day living in a toxic waste dump of a frat house without getting an exotic kind of crotch fungus. Meanwhile, Eve, an eye-popping, hard-working, good-grade-getting beauty is known around campus for her infamous abstinence; she is a virgin and staunchly defends her choice to remain a virgin, saving herself for someone special.
Is Adam that special man? He definitely hopes he is. But after nine months of dating, Eve is adamant about not sleeping with him, or even getting overly physical in any other way. The furthest the two go is making out on a bed in their underwear, but that's it. Adam is increasingly frustrated, but recognizes that he's got an awesome girl in Eve, so is willing to hold out and be faithful.
The pressure mounts when his loser frat boy friends consistently berate him for staying with such a girl. Eve doesn't have it any easier, when her sorority sisters consistently mock her choice. As Adam and Eve's relationship grows, something will give, and in the end, it might be Adam's self-control—which may spell doom for his relationship.
There are times in life when surprises come out of nowhere and just surprise the heck of you. (How's that for some adroit writing?) Watching Adam and Eve is one of those times.
I went into this thing fearing a typical, unfunny mish-mash of collegiate-themed film clichés, tied together with that National Lampoon feel (read: a random, anonymous bare breast of two, beer, etc.) Overall, I have not been in impressed with recent offerings from National Lampoon, finding them dull, amateurish, and a far cry from the ventures of their past.
Basically, what I'm getting at is that my expectations were lower than crap.
Well, color me stunned, because, kids, Adam and Eve is a fine little movie. Not only is it funnier than pretty much all the recent National Lampoon "comedies" I've subjected myself to (Holiday Reunion, Dorm Daze), but it is leaps and bound more dramatic. Yeah, dramatic.
The thrust of the film is straightforward: horny dude finds the greatest girl in the world, but she's not doing the physical stuff, so he needs to evaluate how important sex is versus the girl of his dreams. This sounds like a set-up for a potential gaggle of sophomoric jokes, and the film pulls them off, but it goes further, and grounds the humor in a convincing, substantial treatment of the characters. Adam and Eve aren't cutouts created to be put in a lineup of gross-out gags. They're fully developed, and the filmmakers spend time crafting them so their actions make sense in the context of who they are and the situations they are put in.
Adam, for example, makes it very clear that he is used to the wanton sex life of a college senior. He is frustrated from beginning to end (and if you saw Eve, you would be too) and can't understand why Eve isn't like everyone else. He eventually does, yes, but it's not through some tacked-on, B.S. Full House-like speech from his dad or lesbian best friend. He realizes his love for Eve organically, and comes to understand her choice.
I have got to give kudos to writer Justin Kanew and director Jeff Kanew (father and son team, the latter of Revenge of the Nerds fame): they never sell out their characters or their choices. Eve, for example, is stern in the maintenance of her virginity, despite the pressure from her friends and boyfriend. Eve questions her decision in the face of raging hormones and the like, but is resilient. Neither do the Kanews short-sell the idea of preserving one's virginity. Yes, the idea is mocked within the film, but it's done by a) Adam's friends, who are complete jackasses and b) Eve's housemates, who come across as petty whores.
Now, don't go running out to show this flick to your local church youth group. It's still a raunchy, crude, piece of gross-out fare. Adam's friends come out with some of the most disgusting things, Eve's friends talk explicitly of their various sexual encounters, masturbation and STD jokes abound, there's some testicle sniffing, a gratuitous pubic hair scene, the requisite breasts, and even some urine-drinking. But what separates Adam and Eve from the parade of American Pie clones is the heart at its core. This is probably the best film of its genre (the gross-out/college/romantic comedy genre) that I've seen. Nice job Kanews.
A solid disc from top to bottom, Adam and Eve receives a strong 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and an effective-enough 5.1 mix. For extras: an engaging commentary from the Kanews, some deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
I mentioned American Pie. Those frickin' movies annoyed the heck out of me. They were marketed as some kind of nostalgic, feel-good excursion into the land of growing up and relationship forging, but were always just vehicles to deliver over-the-top gags. This film, on the other hand, is the real deal. Gross? Sure. Funny? Yeah. But it's got substance going on, too.
The accused is not kicked out of the garden.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Director and Writer's Commentary
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