Billed as "from the producers of 'Road Trip' and 'Old School,'" but lacking the antic sensibility of director Todd Phillips, pic is an instantly forgettable transplanting of "Road Trip" to overseas locales. Promising young cast flounders amid comic material that's staler than week-old bread. Drop-off should be sharp followed by a long ancillary afterlife.

Billed as “from the producers of ‘Road Trip’ and ‘Old School,’” but lacking the antic sensibility of director Todd Phillips, “Eurotrip” is an instantly forgettable transplanting of “Road Trip” to overseas locales. Promising young cast flounders amid comic material that’s staler than week-old bread. Ad campaign pitched at college-age auds and the lack of any similar fare in the marketplace may lead to an initial burst of B.O. But drop-off should be sharp and quick, followed by a long ancillary afterlife.

Young Scotty Thomas’ (Scott Mechlowicz) life is quickly going from bad to worse. In the midst of his high school graduation, his girlfriend tells him that she’s leaving him for another guy because he’s “too predictable.” Then, at a post-graduation party, Scotty discovers his ex’s new beau is the heavily pierced-and-tattooed lead singer (an almost unrecognizable Matt Damon) of a punk rock band whose latest song is entitled “Scotty Doesn’t Know.”

But the icing on the cake comes when a drunk Scotty abruptly breaks off contact with his German e-mail pen pal Mieke, believing Mieke has made a homosexual pass at him. Turns out Mieke isn’t another guy as Scott thought, but rather a really gorgeous girl (German pop star Jessica Boehrs, making her film debut)!

Inconsolable over the error, Scotty decides to ditch his summer job and head for Berlin, with vaguely goofy pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts), to find Mieke and beg for her forgiveness. But when these intrepid travelers find out they’ll have to wait a full week to travel to Berlin, they opt instead for an immediate flight to London.

Once in Europe, duo meets up with two other friends, anal-retentive brother Jamie (Travis Webster) and sexy sister Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg), who are also spending the summer overseas. And the rest of “Eurotrip” is devoted to the now-foursome’s increasingly wayward efforts to make it to Berlin, bouncing from one European city to the next. Instead of the carefully escalating farce of “Road Trip” (or of “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” which remains the absurd high-water mark for this type of pic), writer-director Jeff Schaffer and his co-writers Alec Berg and David Mandel fall back on a parade of broad, one-note potshots at various nationalities, most of which wouldn’t pass muster at a comedy club amateur night.

Schafer, Berg and Mandel conceive situations that seem to spring from Americans’ most provincial notions of traveling abroad. To cite just two weary examples: In Paris, Scotty has a violent encounter with a silver-faced mime; and in Amsterdam, Cooper finds himself at the hands of a sex-club dominatrix (Lucy Lawless). Pic’s most (and perhaps only) inspired sequence involves an Italian train passenger (“Saturday Night Live’s” Fred Armisen, fittingly billed as Creepy Italian Guy) who has a tendency to get a little too friendly with his neighbors whenever the train passes through a tunnel. But this gag is so subsequently overplayed that even viewers who’ve only seen the “Eurotrip” trailers may already have tired of it.

Pic’s four leads have an easygoing, natural chemistry together, but needed a smarter script. In particular, Mechlowicz shows real star quality in his second major lead role (following his acclaimed, and radically different turn in Sundance entrant “Mean Creek”).

Tech aspects are adequate, with Oscar-winning production designer Allan Starski (“Schindler’s List”) trying his best to disguise the city of Prague (where pic was almost entirely shot) as a variety of familiar Western European locales.

Eurotrip

Production

A DreamWorks release of a Montecito Picture Co. production. Produced by Daniel Goldberg, Jackie Marcus, Alec Berg, David Mandel. Executive producers, Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollock, Joe Medjuck. Co-producer, Tom Karnowski. Directed by Jeff Schaffer. Screenplay, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Schaffer.

Crew

Camera (Barrandov Laboratories color, Technicolor prints), David Egby; editor, Roger Bondelli; music, James L. Venable; music supervisor, Patrick Houlihan; production designer, Allan Starski; art directors, Nenad Pecur, Jindrich Koci, David Baxa; set decorator, William A. Cimino; costume designer, Vanessa Vogel; sound (DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS), Reinhard Stergar; visual effects supervisor, Kevin Blank; assistant director, Chris Newman; casting, Meg Liberman, Cami Patton, Nelia Morago. Reviewed at The Grove, Los Angeles, Feb. 11, 2004. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Scott Thomas - Scott Mechlowicz Jenny - Michelle Trachtenberg Cooper Harris - Jacob Pitts Jamie - Travis Webster Mieke - Jessica Boehrs Madame Vandersexxx - Lucy Lawless Mad Maynard - Vinnie Jones Creepy Italian Guy - Fred Armisen
With: Jeffrey Tambor, Matt Damon, Rade Sherbedgia.

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