Miss March

If you haven’t seen the sketch comedy show “Whitest Kids U’ Know” on IFC, fire up the ol’ DVR and have it grab a couple episodes for you. Like all such programs, the sketches are hit-or-miss, but the five guys, all in their late 20s and mostly from New York’s School of Visual Arts, are eager to explore the boundaries of absurdity and good taste. Much of what they do is funny.

For a change of pace, two of the group’s members, Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore, decided to write, direct, and star in a film that isn’t funny at all. (I don’t know why they would do that! You’d have to ask them!) It’s called “Miss March,” and though occasional nuggets of comedy do emerge here and there, it is largely a desperate, bumbling mess.

The real plot, which doesn’t kick in until after about 20 minutes, has wholesome young Eugene Bell (Cregger) suffering an accident on the night of his senior prom and waking up from a coma four years later to discover that his girlfriend, Cindi (Raquel Alessi), is now a Playboy centerfold. This is particularly galling because prior to the accident, Eugene and Cindi were virgins who spent their afternoons giving pro-abstinence lectures at middle schools. Now Eugene wakes up still a virgin and his girlfriend is romping at the Playboy Mansion.

Eugene’s lifelong best friend, Tucker Cleigh (Moore), a relentless horndog and remorseless idiot who leaves a swath of destruction everywhere he goes, suggests the two of them head to Los Angeles, where the annual Playboy anniversary party is taking place THIS VERY WEEKEND at Hugh Hefner’s famous compound. Cindi is bound to be there, and Eugene can confront her about why she abandoned him while he was comatose.

This leads to a lengthy road-trip sequence in which Eugene and Tucker experience the customary shenanigans, which mostly involve Tucker obliviously ruining something and Eugene being physically harmed and screaming like a girl. This is broken up, briefly, by an interlude with a rapper of their acquaintance named Horsed***.MPEG (yes, “dot-em-peg” is part of his name), played by Craig Robinson. Tucker figures that since Horsed***.MPEG is rich, he wouldn’t mind paying for Tucker and Eugene’s plane tickets to L.A. But for some reason, they drive from the East Coast to Chicago to ask him in person (rather than just calling and asking for the money), and after he says yes they just get on his tour bus and drive toward L.A. The story doesn’t make any sense, is what I’m getting at.

Oh, and the whole time, they’re running from Tucker’s girlfriend, Candace (Molly Stanton), who’s furious with Tucker for stabbing her with a fork (don’t ask) and has ordered her firefighter brother — and thus all firefighters across the country, somehow — to murder Tucker on sight.

The film occasionally earns a few laughs in its brief, sketch-like moments, and there’s a genuinely hilarious bit on the tour bus between Tucker and one of Horsed***.MPEG’s groupies. This is no surprise, given that Cregger and Moore are adept at writing sketches. The problem, as numerous “Saturday Night Live” veterans have already demonstrated, is that writing a feature-length screenplay is quite different from writing a four-minute skit. Moore’s character, Tucker, is funny as a reckless jerk, but he’s too much — too arrogant, too clueless, too one-dimensional — to be the second lead in the film. And Cregger’s character, Eugene, is simply too bland to be the primary lead. His only function is to be abused and humiliated by Tucker. The movie’s over-use of poop and pee is further evidence of its desperation.

The DVD offers both the theatrical version and the “unrated” version, which adds 4 1/2 minutes of material. As far as I can tell, this is spread out in small pieces throughout the film — i.e., no completely new scenes, only snippets added to existing scenes. Some of these snippets do involve more nudity at the Playboy Mansion, yes, though if you don’t know by now how to find images of naked women without resorting to buying “Miss March,” then I don’t know what to tell you.

D (1 hr., 29 min.; R, abundant harsh profanity, vulgarity, gross humor, sexual dialogue and nudity.)