Miss March

dir. Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore (Twentieth Century Fox) -- 1.5 STARS

“Miss March” is a shitshow—literally. You know a movie is desperate when volatile explosions of feces constitute the film’s only real thread of comedy. In a world where boys will be boys and girls will be their playthings, “Miss March” slinks into a well-established lineup of testosterone-fueled “comedies” undercut by a dearth of real humor. The film lacks its own voice, and its characters are in an incessant struggle to find a wit that is uniquely theirs. Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore—two of the actors from IFC’s “The Whitest Kids U’Know”—direct, produce, and star in the film, which is little more than a failed narcissistic foray into the unforgiving world of the feature-length movie.

The plot is typical bromance fodder. After waking up from four years in a coma, Eugene Bell (Cregger) discovers that his once virginal high-school girlfriend Cindi Whitehall (Raquel Alessi), has become a Playboy centerfold. His pre-coma best friend Tucker Cleigh (Moore) has relationship issues of his own after accidentally stabbing his epileptic girlfriend with a fork. The two decide to embark on a roadtrip to the annual Playboy party so that Eugene can confront Cindi—an adventure rife with setbacks, including a vendetta with a network of angry firemen and an encounter with rapper Horsedick.MPEG (sic), played by Craig Robinson of “The Office” fame.

Although “Miss March” has its funny moments, most of the humor is trite and stale. The film banks too heavily on the shock value of giving screen time to the corporeal taboo, such as a pair of testicles sans penis. The film’s deus ex machina, which involves a lustful lesbian make-out session, also strikes out. The humor throughout caters specifically to its male audience, but this kind of soft pornography has been done many times before. Even more cringe-worthy is the film’s use of medical conditions like incontinence and epilepsy as a collective crutch for cheap, physical humor. Turns out seizures aren’t that funny, even when they involve failed fellatio.

The firemen—only tangentially related to the epilepsy subplot—serve as one of the movie’s few redeeming motifs. In their absurd and relentless pursuit of Tucker and Eugene, they provide a refreshing shtick in the otherwise recycled nature of “Miss March.” Craig Robinson’s performance as Horsedick.MPEG also ultimately succeeds, due to his typically nonchalant delivery and an awkward revelation at the movie’s end.

The acting of Cregger and Moore, by contrast, is noticeably contrived. Their stilted words and staging make them appear painfully conscious that they are acting, and the plasticity of their conversations is impossible to overlook. To be sure, there is a patent attempt to flesh out the main characters’ three-dimensionality. Tucker’s secret sexual naïveté, for instance, complicates his otherwise insufferably flat character. But nothing can save either protagonist from the actors’ forced deliveries. Ultimately, Hugh Hefner is the only realistic character in the film, and that isn’t saying much since the man plays himself.

Like a gawky teenager lumbering at a school dance, “Miss March” is a film awkwardly unsure of itself. The characters don’t come of age or learn any substantive moral lesson, and the attempt at emotional sincerity feels about as injected and synthetic as the breasts of Hugh’s Playboy bunnies. When removed from their sketch comedy environment, it seems The Whitest Kids U’Know can only deliver a drawn-out lesson of “bros before hos” you can smell from a mile away.