YouTube superstar KSI makes his feature film debut alongside Caspar Lee in this laugh-out-loud, chaotic comedy. Duncan (KSI) and Jack (Caspar Lee) are exchange students with just one night left in the United States - and one final chance to lose their virginity with the girls of their dreams (something they really, really want to do). To have a shotat doing that, though, they need to get invited to the class bully’s house-party that night…and, sadly for them, they aren't. The two friends hatch an elaborate and desperate bid to get in, which takes them on an unexpected adventure, navigating a minefield of problems from gun-wielding gangsters, to deviant drug lords. The boys must work together to fulfil their fantasies in time to catch their flights home. With an all-star cast, including Josh Leyva, Bobby Lee, Madison Iseman, and Deji Olatunji, this is an outrageous and hilarious story of two boys…becoming men.
When it comes to lowbrow, teenage sex comedies, even the most novice viewer has probably seen it all in movies like 'American Pie,' 'Porky's,' and 'Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle' and other trashy films aimed at the lowest common denominator for R-rated fare. 'Laid in America' adds nothing new or novel to this genre, and even worse, is unable to rise above the most basic of amateur level. The movie was written and directed by Sam Millman and Peter Vass, both of whom appear competent and certainly energetic (as revealed in the "Behind the Scenes" featurette) but fail to deliver anything original. It is a prime example of how rotten screenplays and even worse actors should not be put into production and further pollute an already creatively bankrupt Hollywood machine. 'Laid in America' has apparently been produced direct-to-video, though how they managed to find release under the Universal Studios banner is an incredible mystery. I've sat through more than my unfair share of bad films over the years, especially those which have been saved from obscurity through Netflix and other on-line providers willing to show anything to anybody. However, 'Laid in America' is among the very worst comedies I've ever seen, making other travesties like 'Couch Trip' seem like pure genius Even the title is obvious and cliched, a pun which has been the subject of many porn titles (or so I'm told) and not faring much better when it comes to creative content. It pretty much exemplifies the standard of wit and humor found in the main feature. To make myself clear: I did not like this film.
I hesitate to give details on the plot, if only because its sheer clumsiness and predictability are a side element which make this train-wreck slightly watchable. But here ya go: Olajide Olatunji (also known as KSI) plays Duncan, while Caspar Lee plays Jack. They are foreign exchange students attending an American high school and staying with the same American family. It is the last day of school, and the last day before they return back to their respective homelands. Like all 18-year olds guys, they simply want to lose their virginity, and specifically to American girls, before leaving the States. Caspar is the obvious object of affection of Kaylee (played with some charm by Madison Iseman), a typical knockout blonde beauty who used to date the popular high school jerk, Tucker (Josh Leyva). She wants to hook up with him at her ex-boyfriend's end of the school year bash, which seems to be known to everyone in town thanks to social media. However, Tucker the bully refuses to extend an invitation to the two foreigners, unless they bring two hot chicks to the party. Desperate to attend the soiree (which is more hyped but less impressive than anything displayed in 'Sixteen Candles' or 'Weird Science'), Duncan and Caspar adventure out to find escorts. Posing as rich guys, they use a dating application and eventually meet up with Amber (played with finesse by Angela Trimbur). Both are allured by her obvious physcial attributes, but end up drugged and kidnapped by her and her boyfriend Goose (Bobby Lee), a criminal capitalist in need of money to fund his business. What follows is a series of episodic misfortunes which get in their way of making it to Tucker's party and, more importantly, getting laid.
'Laid in America' is frustratingly unfunny and insultingly stupid. It is filled with ineptly exectuted situations and settings (a scuzzy diner populated by low-lifes, yet is cleaner and more antiseptic than the finest Denny's; a sex mansion which is more curious than outrageous), bad acting (almost every actor seems hell-bent in playing their stereotypes as broadly and often as loudly as possible), and flat dialogue (I cannot recall a single exchange of words which elicited a single reaction from me other than a shake of the head or restless boredom). Nominally interesting premises are never developed, such as when Goose explains that he needs funding to market an phone app which track drug dealers, or when the characters end up in a house of bondage and prostitutes which may be an homage to or rip-off of 'Eyes Wide Shut." Other set-ups are simply dead on arrival, like a transportation service which gives rides in the company of top heavy women called "Boobers" and a scene where the main characters are forced to travel by Segway. It's all as lame as it sounds.
The two lead actors are insufferable and unappealing. Duncan screams a majority of his profanity-filled lines like some crude caricature of the mentally impaired. Caspar whines incessantly, and bemoans the missed opportunity of getting together with Kaylee so often that I was wishing for his character to lose out in the end. (Wish denied) . At first, I could not understand why these two decent looking guys would have such difficulty courting women, but their grating personalities made it all clear. They are 18-year olds who act like they're 13 but look 25. Their characters are bland and boring, offset by bits of hysteria when the movie gets too quiet (both onscreen and within the audience). Even Bill and Ted, not to mention Butthead and Beavis, were far more interesting.
The movie climaxes at Tucker's party, which is sparsely attended and confined to a living room set filled with meandering extras. Apparently, a bunch of Youtube "celebrities" make cameos, and their separate introductions put a dead halt to an already dying film. A female rapper and some singer show up on the soundtrack, which I suppose will please their pocket of fans but probably have no effect on the general audience. Two other young women come across as bland in the film, and obnoxious in the documentary. The others have no personality whatsoever. (Even worse, the technical deficiencies make such appearances more awkward than interesting, as we hear the vocals of a guy named "Golden" singing in the background, but it's clear that his lips aren't moving.)
Obviously, most of these YouTube performers are out of my cultural generation, but I did recognize a dull-eyed Tay Zonday who had a viral hit with "Chocolate Rain" and a smirking Tony DeLaGhetto, a so-called comedian who comes across even flatter as a DJ during the big party scene. Someone named Alexis G. Zall appears as a rebellious young teen in brief, bookending appearances, but nothing comes of her character. It's yet another non-sequitur of people who are sustained by an internet fanbase.
Clearly, there's a big difference between entertaining a niche audience whose specific tastes are acommodated by YouTube, and appeal to a less specialized crowd including general movie-goers. Just because these "internet sensations" are popular to a segmented audience, does not mean they will appeal to broader tastes. I am reminded of another so-called comedy I saw last year titled 'Man Up' which spotlighted a couple of other YouTube "stars." It was clear that schtick and antics which might be tolerable in an 8-minute video cannot be sustained in anything close to feature-length. Judging by the brief introduction by some of these YouTubers, I don't see how any of them would ever be spotlighted in motion picture again.
There are a couple of good qualities to be found. Comedian Bobby Lee (formerly of 'Mad TV' and many other co-starring roles) is the one saving grace in this mess, thanks to his ability to ad-lib off the awful script and bring one or two genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Angela Trimbur plays his girlfriend Amber, and she too, rises above the rest with some good comedic moments and a witty sex appeal. Her scenes with Bobby have a definite chemistry which give some much-needed energy to an anemic storyline. Out of a cast jam-packed with over-the-top characters, only these two are able to rise above the film's grotesque mediocrity. Keep their scenes, edit everything else out, and you have a much more tolerable viewing experience.
'Laid in America' was made for an audience of YouTube-immersed 12-year old boys, but requiring the use of crude and risque situations to keep adults from falling asleep. If this film was made as a vanity project by these so-called celebrities specifically for an internet release, then I might be less critical of the final product because it would be easier to dismiss.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Laid in America' comes on a single platter, BD-50 in a standard Blu-ray keep case. There are no inserts or any other materials to be found. The disc loads up to a single 33 second trailer to the home video debut of the box office flop 'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' before loading the animated main menu.
Overall, the AVC-encoded 1080p picture provides eye-pleasing pictures in a theatrical ratio of 2.44:1, which is obviously wider than most comedies which usually 16:9. (Indeed, the "making of" segment is displayed in 1.85:1). While the content doesn't lend itself to the "epic" nature of widescreen, the movies fills those proportions effectively and makes the movie seem like a bigger budget affair.
There is a slight inconsistency in visuals depending on the story's location, which is probably the result of the original production rather than the high definition transfer. The movie looks great where shots have plenty of lighting, and colors look natural and accurate for a digital source. Scenes which take place at night exhibit less detail, though black levels are distinct. Most of the movie takes place indoors, where artificial lighting shows up slightly murky and gloomy, making this teen-based film more like 'The River's Edge' than 'The Breakfast Club.' Otherwise, the presentation seems faultless, with no visual issues or defects that I could spot.
The most impressive part of the sound is the Universal Studios theme accompanying the company logo, which makes fine use of any 5.1 system without being gimmicky. Otherwise, the audio on 'Laid in America' borderlines on monophonic, despite the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It's only natural that a movie which relies more on dialogue than special effects have a soundtrack where aural immersion isn't the point, so I was okay with what I was hearing.
Voices are accurately and intelligibly heard in the center channel, even with the main characters' distinctive accents, and during moments where screams appear randomly. Without the occasional music score, there is almost no bass response and little directionality in the surround speakers. The audio does come to life when the soundtrack kicks in the obligatory raps songs, which are heard intermittently.
The Making of 'Laid in America' Documentary (HD, 58:21) - While redundantly titled, this detailed but fairly well-edited featurette runs nearly an hour long and is slightly more entertaining than the movie itself. Presented in stereo, and compiled from various video sources, cast and crew members are given ample screen time to express their genuine affection for the production. It helps that all the participants are energetic and enthusiastic about the movie (no matter how naive and misguided), and people like Josh Leyva come across more likable behind the scenes than they did in their original roles.
Then again, there are ceaseless references to someone or something being "so funny!" and "hilarious" when the final results yield just the opposite. 'Laid in America' doesn't really warrant this kind of lengthy and rambling documentary, and I certainly wouldn't have bothered with viewing it but for the purposes of this review.
And although not exactly qualifying as a bonus material, the end credits show a few bloopers and outtakes.
This movie fell short of even my most modest expectations, and is probably the main reason why this review is so bitter and cranky. But really, how is that this movie made it to Blu-ray when far superior favorites of mine have yet to preserved in high def, like 'Avalon,' 'This Property is Condemned,' and 'Supergirl' (yeah, yeah...I know)? I understand that one thing has nothing to do with the other, but it's still a rant which no studio will answer.
In any event, as a vanity project for those who worship YouTube's latest flash-in-the-pans, I guess there is some purpose in watching 'Laid in America.' But a comedy is supposed to be funny, and a movie about getting it on should at least be somewhat titillating. This movie is neither. Avoid it by all means necessary.