When was the last time you saw a movie so bad, you had to consider the idea that its basic existence might be a joke. Like, that it’s more believable to imagine that someone made a terrible parody of a movie than that what you’re watching might be an actual, sincere attempt at film.
For me, the answer is this week, and the movie is The Late Bloomer. Based on a true story (documented in Ken Baker’s Man Made: A Memoir of My Body), the movie tells the story of Peter Newmans (yes, his name is a penis slang followed by a surname indicating change. It’s the most subtle thing about this movie), who is a sex addiction therapist who doesn’t have sex. In tackling his asexuality, there are a couple gay jokes, and they somehow wrangled JK Simmons into being the predictably disappointed masculine father, but after the inciting incident of a basketball to the groin, we find out that Peter (played by Johnny Simmons) has lived his life with a brain tumor pressed up against his pituitary gland. So Peter, at the age of twenty-something, has never gone through puberty.
You already know how the rest of this plays out. He gets the tumor removed, goes through an oh-so-hilarious montage of boners, porn, acne, yelling at his parents about how he hates them, and a whole bunch more boners. Then love story, then, thankfully, it’s over.
No one’s saying this should be a drama or a documentary (although literally anything would be better than this), but if the filmmakers— which by the way, is Kevin Pollak in his feature film directorial debut— had opted for any minute speck of realism, everything about this movie would have been infinitely funnier. It’s not self-aware enough to be deliberately absurd, so the broad strokes of Peter’s late, accelerated puberty just mean he rotates through one-note scenes of playing emotional/horny/an asshole.
The very best thing you could possibly say about the movie is that it was made 30 years too late. This type of generic, sexist, sex-crazed schlock would have been just as awful, but would have at least fit into a genre with an audience as an 80s teen sex comedy. Now, though, I can’t even understand how it got made. And how it convinced JK Simmons, Maria Bello, Kumail Nanjiani, SNL’s Beck Bennett, Brittany Snow, Johnny Simmons, and mawfucking Kevin Pollak to all waste themselves on this project.
I want to rub this movie’s nose in itself to make it ashamed of what it’s done. The only way I could possibly recommend watching this is maybe if you’re looking for something to base some sort of high-stakes bet on, and need a punishment for the loser. Otherwise, stay away. You’re all good people and I like you. Please never hurt yourselves by watching this movie.