Film Review: SundownA ribald south-of-the-border teen fantasy that’s drunk on stale clichés.
With spring break antics of the most torturously raunchy sort, Sundown proves a tired teen-oriented The Hangover drunk on stale clichés. Logan (Devon Werkheiser) is a high school dork who, in order to win the heart of popular Lina (Sara Paxton), follows his idiot friend Blake’s (Sean Marquette) advice and takes his dad’s (John Michael Higgins) Porsche out for the night—a faux pas that compels his father and mother (Teri Hatcher) to leave him at home while they go on his vacation cruise. Tasked with house-sitting chores and picking up dad’s beloved heirloom Rolex watch, Logan is instead convinced by troublemaking Blake to head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he can stalk Lina as Blake tries to get his rocks off while filming their shenanigans for his web show.
Upon arriving south of the border, Logan (who dreams of being a famous DJ) and Blake immediately befriend a goofy cab driver named Chuy (Silverio Palacios) who functions as their virtual guardian angel—even though he likes to demand money and Logan’s t-shirts as payment for his services. Chuy is a hoary stereotype, though he’s no more egregious than any other element of Sundown, which soon has Blake spending a night with a busty transsexual woman (much to his disgust) and Logan losing his watch to a beautiful stripper named Gaby (Camilla Belle) who, wouldn’t you know, actually has a heart of gold. Unfortunately, recovering that timepiece isn’t as easy as simply tracking down Gaby, since it soon winds up in the hands of her pseudo-pimp Dorian (Jordi Mollà), a funny looking criminal interested only in cash.
Director Fernando Lebrija casts Mexico as a wonderland of dim-bulb, hard-partying gringos and oh-so-colorful Mexicans, in the process reducing everyone involved to the lamest of archaic types. Sundown is across-the-board offensive, including with regards to its storytelling, which piles on R-rated incidents in the vain hope that they might distract attention away from the painful conventionality of its tale. Those involve a tepid high-speed car chase, some roofie-spiked drinks and “billboarding” (aka genital-shaped graffiti written on passed-out people’s faces). And they’re lowlighted by a prolonged cock-fighting sequence that Lebrija shoots in super-slow motion that strives to make the animals’ lethal battle dramatic. However, like so much of the proceedings, this centerpiece is merely an ill-advised, thoroughly unsuccessful stab at generating laughs through extreme “outrageousness.”
From the outset, it’s clear that Gaby will fall for Logan and that he’ll eventually choose her over the superficial Lina—a predictable set-up that further leaves Sundown feeling like rehashed leftovers. From Belle’s second-rate Mexican accent to Marquette’s overdoing-it comic relief performance, the film is an atonal mess. A raft of cameos from electronic music luminaries (including Steve Aoki) do little to elevate the C-grade quality of this comedy, which ultimately proves merely a collection of hackneyed gay-panic and foreigners-are-crazy gags utilized in service of an absurd fantasy in which, no matter how stupidly or selfishly teenagers act, everything eventually works out in the most ideal way possible.
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