I have seen into the abyss, and it has drained from me my very will to live. Which is to say, I have seen The Layover.
On its surface this female-fronted comedy seems like a Bride Wars ripoff, where two beautiful women—one blonde (Kate Upton) and one brunette (Alexandra Daddario)—fight over some silly girl thing, like the best wedding, or here some hunky blond dude (Matt Barr. [Imagine if Abercrombie rebooted Captain Ron, adding youth while washing away his strangely alluring scrunginess along with any trace of personality.]) However, penned by It’s Always Sunny’s David “Rickety Cricket” Hornsby and Lance Krall and helmed by Shameless’s William H. Macy, this so-called comedy isn’t actually about women. It’s about petty, vicious, vindictive hell beasts in women skin-suits who set out to make everyone around them miserable. That’s the only way to explain lines like:
Blonde Hell Beast: “Hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable—”
Brunette Hell Beast: “That’s why they name them after women!”
See, it’s funny because misogyny!
The Blonde Hell Beast goes by “Meg,” and she’s a flirty, lying wannabe entrepreneur, who peddles dangerous skin care products that attract bees and make lips bleed. The Brunette Hell Beast is called Kate, and she’s a prudish and neurotic teacher, who seems superficially less evil than her cohort because she doesn’t cut lines or blackmail concierges. Just you wait, because when hot guy Ryan literally comes between them (in the middle seat of a flight to Florida), these beautiful beasts begin a contest to one-up each other in awful.
When a hurricane leaves these three stranded in St. Louis, Kate and Meg make everything from wearing dresses and dancing, to wearing swimsuits and diving into a competition. That might seem unlikely or outright insane, but the script sets up such unhinged behavior by establishing both
women hell beasts enjoy watching The Bachelor. So, of course they’ll sabotage each other with drugged wine and literally shitty bathroom shenanigans, or embarrass each other by drudging up painful childhood memories like being called “scrotum head.” Because hell beasts, amirite?
Upton and Daddario manage to bring some life and charm to this monstrosity. But mostly, they are subject to the material, which is sexist, stupid, and doggedly unfunny. Which leaves you to wonder why they signed on at all, then to muse how sparse lead roles on female-fronted anything are in Hollywood, and then further consider how it’s no wonder we can’t get a woman president when women can’t even tell stories for women about women, even for a low-budget buddy comedy. And then you’re just mad an Hornsby and Krall and Macy, because come the fuck on. You don’t need to be a woman to write or direct one. Hell, even having met one woman ever should have yielded a better understanding of the female experience than what this rank collection of lame and insulting shit offers.
Do you feel sick to your stomach? Yeah. That’ll happen with The Layover. And probably before Daddario is literally covered head to toe in feces. I guess because Bridesmaids had that poop joke that worked, so women like that right? But more likely, this was never meant to be for women. That’d explain why Macy cast two frequent pin-up girls in the lead roles, then worried less about giving them good jokes of character complexity, and more about being sure they strip down to bathing suits. Despite the praise Daddario received for True Detective and the promise Upton showed in The Other Woman, both are treated as little more than boner-sporting bro bait. Who needs compelling heroines when dumb broads will come along anyway because chick flick, female friendship, hot guy, yadda yadda?
You can tell this movie was never intended for women, because the costuming is entirely made up of deeply unfortunate outfits. Kate Upton—famous for her bikini bod—is harnessed into a teal one-piece swimsuit that somehow makes her look downright frumpy. Meanwhile Daddario’s amazing figure spends most of the film flopped in ill-fitting blouses and clutching blazers in drab colors, while her hair is resolutely pulled into mousy pigtails (when it’s not covered in shit). It’s like the first half of She’s All That, except stupider because The Layover isn’t for children. The extended—yet bizarrely unsexy—sex scene assures that. IF this were a movie made with women in mind, the outfits would at least attempt to cater to female fantasies of elegance and enviable fashion, instead of opportunely pointing out “BOOBS!”
But hey, there’s a message at play beneath all this viciousness. And as you might expect from a movie about the mission of hell beasts, it’s pretty fucked up. To learn its dark secrets you must suffer some spoilers. After both Kate and Meg have managed to bone crooked-dick Ryan (yes, he has a crooked dick), they learn he is a crooked dick! He’s about to get married. So they decide to “save the day” for his bride-to-be by crashing and confessing how they both banged her groom. But then they meet her (and her unfortunate excuse for a wedding dress), and she’s a demanding bitch who berates Ryan in front of them. So she doesn’t deserve to know the truth because “Karma is a bitch.”
But worry not for our hell beasts, because Karma is only a bitch for people. Kate—despite having made no changes in her life—will be rewarded with a random promotion at work, and Meg will set up a sequel by snagging the normal-looking Nice Guy (Matt Jones), who spent the whole movie drooling over her. By kissing a normal guy, she’ll no doubt give hope to all the drooling fan boys. But more importantly, Meg is definitely going to murder Nice Guy Craig. I’ve seen enough Investigation Discovery episodes to recognize this setup.
You know that sensation after you’ve vomited? I don’t mean a bit of upchuck. I mean like, when your body surrenders itself to turning inside out, and you see bits of kale in the bile and think, “when the hell did I eat kale!?” You feel absolutely awful during. But when it’s done, and you’ve got it all out, you feel sickly, weak, and still pretty awful. That’s how I feel right now about The Layover. Death would be a sweet release after witnessing this.