Douchebag, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Festival, follows the story of two estranged brothers who embark on a road trip — a plot that sounds as thought it has promise, but ultimately falls flat.
Sam Nussbaum (Andrew Dickler) is reunited with his brother Tom (Ben York Jones) a few days before his marriage to his fiancée Steph (Marguerite Moreau), who insists that Tom be in attendance at their wedding. She takes it upon herself to pick Tom up and drive him to their house, where the two brothers — who haven’t spoken for two years — are now forced to confront each other and live together.
Starry-eyed Steph questions Tom about his love life and asks whether or not he has ever been in love. Tom admits to being in love with Mary Barger, a girl he hasn’t seen since they were both in the fifth grade.
Steph and Sam insist that he bring her as his date to their wedding. After finding her online and discovering that there are three women in California with the same name, the two brothers set off on a Southern California road trip in hope of finding Tom’s dream girl.
The film gives us a glimpse into the evolving relationship of these two awkward and very different brothers.
With a title like Douchebag one would hope for an over-the-top character that would make viewers’ blood boil and cause people to yell the film’s title at the screen, but that’s not the case here.
The brothers’ differing personalities only add to their dysfunctional relationships. The trip sheds light on their varying characteristics, exposing the audience to the obnoxious, bossy and arrogant Sam who humiliates his markedly sensitive brother and forces him to engage in activities he feels uncomfortable with. Tom is an artist whose work is frequently belittled by Sam, who condescendingly refers to his brother’s artwork as mere “doodles.”
In the end, neither character is extremely likeable, but they are not utterly detestable either. In fact, audience members don’t have strong emotions about the characters either way and remain indifferent about them throughout the film. Because audience members lack interest in the two characters, it is difficult to remain invested in the story. On the surface, the characters’ differences make for an interesting story and good material for dialogue, but the characters fail to capture this potential.
Not only are the characters uninteresting but their conversations are bland and carry on for too long. In one scene, there is a debate among Sam, Steph and Tom about whether figure skating is a sport or a dance contest. They spend what seems like a couple of minutes arguing about this — and no ones laughs in the process. The strange choice of topic might have been humorous if executed correctly, but in this case the dialogue sounds more like someone created it to fill up time.
This moment, like many others in the film, has potential to be funny but misses the mark. As is the case with some films, the title generates more laughter than the actual movie.
There are some moments in the film however, that invoke a nervous, unintentional laughter just as with its title. There is a scene where Sam and Tom arrive at the doorstep of the “wrong” Mary Barger, forcing Sam to ask her to give back the bouquet of flowers they gave her. Viewers cannot help but chuckle at this awkward situation, but the film lacks enough of these small moments.
The premise of trying to find a fifth-grade sweetheart, although outlandish, has potential. The idea of two brothers taking a road trip in search of a childhood crush could have made for some hilarious moments. But the film fails to deliver.
Although the film revolves around a road trip, it has no direction. One could argue that the film is more about the journey rather than the destination, but it leaves the audience asking, “What was the point?” The ending is disappointing and leaves the viewer wondering why they were forced to ride along on this pointless trip.
Although there are some amusing moments in the film, Douchebag fails to live up to its compelling and risqué title. I suppose, then, the moral of the story is: Never judge a film by its movie title.