The Search for the Worst Movie Ever: Selena Gomez's 'Behaving Badly'
By Cinesnark | Film Reviews | August 6, 2014 |
When it comes to bad movies, I have a high threshold of pain. As a film writer, I see a lot of movies, and over time I’ve started to notice something—that threshold is getting higher as I sit through more and more bad movies. It’s to the point that I’m starting to wonder just how bad a movie has to be before I can’t take anymore and have to quit watching it. As a rule of thumb, I don’t give up on movies, but I am starting to wonder if I’ve become so inured to inferior filmmaking that I can’t even recognize that tipping point anymore. So consider this my quest, to suffer through the absolute worst movies I can find in search of the bottom of the barrel—how bad does a movie have to be before I can’t take it anymore?
The answer so far: Worse than Behaving Badly. If you don’t know what Behaving Badly is, congratulations, you’ve escaped the gypsy’s curse. It’s also not surprising that you might not have heard of it as the movie had no advertising campaign and is barely in theatrical release, having gone straight to on demand. (I’m so glad on demand was an option here because I was dreading looking anyone in the eye while buying a ticket to a teen sex comedy starring Selena Gomez.) If you have heard of Behaving Badly it’s probably because you saw the headline, Selena Gomez’s new movie is 0% on Rotten Tomatoes somewhere on the internet.
The core concept behind Behaving Badly is that someone saw Superbad and Saved and then decided to make a teen sex comedy, and used music producer Ric Browde’s semi-autobiographical book, While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog, to get there. The book actually sounds decent—a teen’s odyssey through the late 1970’s rock scene in Los Angeles, complete with nymphomaniacs and nuns. But the movie is contemporary, so David Bowie has been replaced with Josh Groban, and what should be a drug-fueled bender into the prurient mind of adolescence instead comes off sad and borderline sociopathic.
Take, for instance, protagonist Rick’s best friend, Billy. Because this movie is terrible and can’t figure out how to convey information in a visually dynamic way, Rick breaks the fourth wall and tells us everything about everyone, leaving little for the audience to do except numbly watch. In his monologue introducing Billy, Rick mentions that Billy’s big claim to high school fame is that at a party he was violently sexually assaulted when Token Jock sodomized him with a broom.
Teenagers are awful people so it’s not the scope of the crime that gets me, it’s how absolutely no one, not even the pious do-gooder played by Selena Gomez, seems to care AT ALL that Billy has been traumatized. There’s not one character in the movie who connects nervous, pukes-at-the-first-hint-of-confrontation Billy and trauma. It’s just supposed to be funny to us that Billy was victimized because everyone keeps saying “butt cherry.”
Similarly, a major plot point is that Billy’s mom has the hots for seventeen-year-old Rick. The mom is played by Elisabeth Shue, and Rick’s mom is Mary-Louise Parker. Both their characters are alcoholics and drink heavily, and I wouldn’t blame either Shue or Parker if they were legit hammered throughout the making of this movie. Anyway, Billy’s mom bangs Rick, and even forces him to perform sex acts on her. So rape and statutory rape are both represented, and again, this is all supposed to be funny. I’m fine with teen sex comedies, and I’m fine with movies that don’t want to moralize, but if you’re going to invoke this level of dark shit, then please have a point beyond a punchline that extends no further than “butt cherry.”
But the worst offense Behaving Badly commits is that it’s BORING. Oh my God, it’s so boring. It’s only ninety minutes long but it felt like five hours. It’s terribly paced and no joke ever lands successfully and both Shue and Parker do double duty as not only mother-characters, but also saint-characters that appear to their “sons” to dole out sex advice while wearing costumes purchased at the Sexy Halloween store. If I thought this movie had any kind of brains, I’d give it credit for going for the Freudian meta-joke, but as it is, it just comes across as horribly inappropriate.
Behaving Badly’s legacy is bound to be as “the one where Dylan McDermott washes a dildo” and also as the source of every pervert’s favorite GIF of Selena Gomez in a white baby-doll dress, blowing kisses (a real thing that already exists). It’s also notable for having a Justin Bieber cameo that made me rewind and say, “Is that Justin Bieber?” I hate myself.
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