NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ADAM AND EVE (2005)
Starring Cameron Douglas, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Chad Lindberg, Jake Hoffman, Brian Klugman, Branden Williams, Courtney Peldon, China Jesusita Shavers, Terri Garber, George Dzundza, Alan Havey and Mike Elling.
Screenplay by Justin Kanew.
Directed by Jeff Kanew.
Distributed by Lightning Entertainment. 91 minutes. Rated R.
Once upon a time, National Lampoon was a magazine. Then in 1978, they loaned their name to a little movie called Animal House, which became the biggest comedy hit ever. Then, National Lampoon started to become a film factory, with occasional hits like National Lampoon’s Vacation and European Vacation, but more commonly they produced cheesy overlooked comedies such as National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, National Lampoon Goes to the Movies and National Lampoon’s Joy of Sex.
The mag is long gone, and most people lost track of the Lampoon name about the time of Christmas Vacation. However, National Lampoon’s corporate moniker has still been used extensively for comedy movies. Most went straight-to-video (or to straight-to-cable in the early years), stuff like Dorm Daze, Lost Reality, Gold Diggers and the like. Occasionally over the decades, the movies actually get wide theatrical release, most recently with Van Wilder.
In the early going of Adam and Eve, it appears that the movie is stretching out for the Lampoon franchise. Not that, despite the title, they are doing their first biblical drama, but instead of a raunchy sex romp which the logo usually promises, it appears like it is going to be a romantic saga about two college kids finding love. It does seem awfully mature for a National Lampoon flick through these first scenes – it has people talking about their feelings, experiencing complicated emotions and offers no gratuitous nudity. About a half hour in, the gross-out factor does start to stir, mostly in the scenes with the hero’s goofy, arrested-development roommates. The movie eventually extricates itself from those shock moments though, and returns to being a nice, if a little bit shallow, romance.
Adam is played by Cameron Douglas, son of movie star Michael and grandson of Kirk (with whom he costarred in his only previous major film role, the vanity project It Runs in the Family)is a pizza-delivery-guy-slash-aspiring-emo-folk-rocker. He lives in a spectacularly, disgustingly messy house (even graded on the curve of a college residence) with five rather annoying, alcoholic, drug-addicted, perverted, gross and more than a little unsanitary roommates.
Eve (Emmanuelle Chriqui of Waiting and Entourage) is a beautiful, good-hearted but disliked outcast in her sorority (which makes little sense because she is the prettiest girl in the house; you’d think she’d be running the place). Eve is also the oldest… perhaps the only… attractive virgin in California.
The two meet cute, are amused by the name coincidence and start to date. They quickly fall for each other, but complications arise in their perfect affair when he wants some lovin’ and she just wants to cuddle.
We’re never 100% sure why she is holding on to her virginity so steadfastly; she insists that it is not a religious choice, she is not a prude, she is more than willing to make out topless, she is not planning to wait for marriage, and she obviously desires sex. Her mother (Terri Garber) seems a little stuffy, so maybe that affected her choice, but her father (George Dzundza) is obviously open and positive about sex, so it doesn’t seem like it’s parental guidelines. Eve spouts some romantic stuff about only wanting to have sex with THE one man for her, the man she loves, but even when she acknowledges that she has met that man, she still will not give in. Eventually it seems more like a plot point than an actual decision based on character.
Therefore, Adam and Eve becomes a movie that seems pro-peer-pressure when it comes to getting a girl to give up her virginity. Everyone, but everyone, gives Eve a hard time for holding on to her chaste beliefs. Even her father gives her a little pep talk to maybe loosen up a bit. Adam takes to drinking heavily, partying excessively with his wild buddies, and flirting with a slutty girl he knows. Will love win over sex? Will sex come with love?
Not exactly earth-shakingly original questions, but the romantic scenes benefit from the fact that the movie has two such likable stars. Chriqui, in particular, is charming, gorgeous and natural. Frankly, she deserves a stronger role, but she pulls off what is there in stride. Douglas doesn’t quite have his family’s acting chops, but he is puppy-dog cute and can brood well on cue when needed.
Adam and Eve was directed with economy (undoubtedly due to lack of budget) by old-school teen-sex comedy veteran Jeff Kanew (Trivia buffs: he was the creator of Revenge of the Nerds back in 1984) from a screenplay by his son Justin. National Lampoon’s Adam and Eve tries to have its cake and eat it too. (Though, of course, Eve won’t eat it.) Despite the frat house slob comedy it is being sold as (just look at the poster), it’s actually a relatively charming love story with a lot of party scenes shoehorned in.
These party scenes generally don’t work nearly as well – a bash at the guys’ house doesn’t look the least bit fun – even for this former frat guy. There are a bunch of drunken guys babbling about nothing, not nearly enough girls, bad music and three (count ’em) very graphic shots of partygoers throwing up. Perhaps this was the point, proving to Adam that this debauched world is nothing compared to the calmer pleasures of Eve’s company. If that is the case though, the filmmakers really aren’t subtle enough to convey the message. (10/05)
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 28, 2005.