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Case Number 08571

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National Lampoon's Barely Legal

Sony // 2003 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // February 10th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Mitchell Hattaway can barely stomach this barely literate collection of barely tolerable sex jokes.

The Charge

They couldn't rent it, so they filmed it themselves.

Opening Statement

Just to clear up any potential confusion, I'd like to remind everyone that this is a review of National Lampoon's Barely Legal. As far as I know, Larry Flynt had nothing to do with the production of this movie. Whether or not that's a good thing has yet to be determined.

Facts of the Case

Three high school buddies who can't get laid decide to make their own porn flick. Let the wacky hijinks begin!

The Evidence

We judges make this joke quite a bit, but I think it bears repeating: I wish I could just type "it sucks" and be done with this. Given that this movie was previewed back in 2003 (under the title After School Special), and then sat on the shelf for two years before being given the National Lampoon stamp of approval and briefly exhibited on a few screens in late 2005 (news to me, but apparently it happened), you pretty much know what to expect, don't you? Yeah, you're exactly right—it sucks.

Barely Legal goes out of its way to give low-brow sex comedies a bad name. It's by no means funny, and there's very little skin on display. Director David Mickey Evans (who made The Sandlot before heading off into the world of direct-to-video sequels to Beethoven) and screenwriter David H. Steinberg (who is also responsible for Slackers, which has to be one of the worst comedies of the new millennium) couldn't possibly be less interested in a plot that makes the least bit of sense, or in characters whose actions make the least bit of sense. No, Evans and Steinberg seem to think it's simply enough to string the audience along, then throw in a boob shot every half hour, or toss in another unfunny gag about a dork in a wheelchair. The filmmakers' contempt for their target audience is palpable from the first frame to the last; even the most undiscriminating of fans will see right through this. (Then again, if you actually want to see former Freaks and Geeks co-star Samm Levine sit in a wheelchair and get hit in the face with a massive load of monkey semen, this is the perfect movie for you.)

Let me provide you with a couple of examples of the inanities you'll find in this movie. The main characters know absolutely nothing about shooting or distributing porn, yet they somehow manage to recruit as their female lead a young stripper who's desperate to break into the adult film business. Thing is, in the very same city (it's supposed to be Detroit, but the movie was filmed in Canada, which has never looked less like Detroit) lives a man named Vic Ramalot (Horatio Sanz, Boat Trip), who is a major player in the porn world. (The character is patterned on adult film legend Ron Jeremy, who should sue.) Vic is the mastermind behind a renowned porno empire; not only is he a famous performer, he also creates and markets his own product. Okay, so why doesn't the stripper who wants to be a porn star just hook up with the dude who is already a porn star? You telling me Vic never went looking for new talent in the club where she works? Is Vic the kind of guy who recruits porn starlets at the local library? Then there is Naomi (Amy Smart, Road Trip), a fellow student who rescues the main character from his virginity. Naomi is the school slut, but of course she doesn't want to be the school slut, and she claims to have slept with Deacon (that's the main character, who is played by The Princess Diaries co-star Erik Von Detten) because he's a nice guy (what a novel idea!). Well, next thing you know Naomi is trying to change the way Deacon dresses and wants to be involved in the boys' movie. This naturally leads to friction between Deacon and his buddies, who think Deacon has changed now that he's finally been laid (it also leads to the inevitable Yoko Ono joke). Well, Deacon eventually wises up and dumps Naomi. Naomi says she can't let anyone think Deacon dumped her, so she decides to tell everyone that she dumped him. She then asks Deacon if they can still have sex. He says no, which pisses her off to no end and causes her to storm off, although in the very next scene she's shown kicking the ass of a character who is threatening Deacon. Huh? And it gets even more ridiculous. Would you believe that Deacon's parents don't think twice about the fact that they return home one day to find a half-naked stripper in their den? Would you believe that they invite the half-naked stripper to stay for dinner? (Okay, so they think the half-naked stripper is their son's girlfriend, but their reasons for thinking this are also ridiculous.) Would you believe that the boys get more than fifty thousand pre-orders for their movie despite the fact that they don't have any usable footage with which to preview it? Would you believe that Vic threatens to kill the boys for muscling in on his territory, then changes his mind and offers to distribute their film and split the profits, and then goes out and buys them cars? Better yet, can you believe somebody actually fronted the money for this thing?

About halfway through I started getting the feeling I had already seen Barely Legal. At first I thought it was because I have seen so many unfunny, addle-brained comedies over the past year, but then I realized that this flick was doing little more than recycling ideas and scenes from other, better movies. Risky Business is the most obvious influence, given the whole the notion of sexually frustrated teenagers making fat cash off some aspect of the sex industry. Deacon spends a great deal of time bemoaning the fact that his parents bought him a computer instead of a car, which is awfully reminiscent of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There is an extended riff about a guy who suffers from premature ejaculation, which was funny in both Fast Times at Ridgemont High and American Pie (or, if you prefer, Forrest Gump), but here you can see the gag coming a mile away. And the last act of the movie concerns a desperate race to intercept a recently-mailed porn tape, which is simply a paraphrase of Road Trip. (You might be wondering why I didn't mention The Girl Next Door, but the production of this movie actually predates that one. Besides, The Girl Next Door also owes an awful lot to Risky Business, so there is really no need to mention both.)

The anamorphic transfer is occasionally flat and can be a little grainy during darker scenes. In other words, it's pretty much right on-par for what you would expect from a no-budget, barely-released teen sex comedy, although it does a perfectly serviceable job. The audio, which comes across as little more than a beefed-up mono mix, is also rather flat, although there is a bit of heft and channel separation in the insipid songs sprinkled throughout the movie. In other words, it's pretty much right on-par for what you would expect from a no-budget, barely-released teen sex comedy, although it could have been a little punchier. Extras include some previews for other Sony releases, as well as a few extended scenes. As far as I could tell, the only difference between these scenes and their counterparts in the movie itself was some additional female nudity. Why you would trim female nudity from a movie about three high school kids who enter the porn business is beyond me, but I think I'm done wasting my time trying to apply logic to the methods of the people responsible for this movie.

Closing Statement

Too lame and too tame to entertain, and that's a crying shame.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 70
Extras: 20
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Extended Scenes
• Previews

Accomplices

• IMDb








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