Eurotrip. Dreamworks Pictures presents a film directed by Jeff Schaffer. Written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated R (for profanity, nudity, sexual situations, and drug use). Starring Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Jessica Boehrs.


If there's a boundary Eurotrip isn't willing to cross, I don't know what it is. The film is rife with nudity and sex; just about every available European stereotype is perpetrated and exploited as much as possible; it's xenophobic, it's homophobic, it pokes fun at the Catholic Church and the Pope. Eurotrip is offensive, disgusting and just about every other thing I hate. It is also, at least for the most part, really very funny.

There are very few gross-out comedies that manage to, as Mel Brooks put it, "Rise below bad taste." American Pie did it. Old School very nearly did. Eurotrip manages it as well. It embraces its offensive humor with gusto, and it gives the finger to anyone who might object. All too many of these films touch on the boundaries of bad taste but don't seem to believe in offending the audience. Eurotrip goes all the way with its material, sometimes past the point at which it's funny, but I'd rather have confident failed humor than timid failed humor.

The plot of Eurotrip, so far as there is one, revolves around Scott Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz), a high-schooler with a German pen-pal named Mieke (Jessica Boehrs). Scott is dumped at graduation, and Mieke offers to come to America to see him. But Scott, being the teen-movie idiot he is, is under the impression that Mieke is a man, and promptly responds to to offer with an e-mail containing the phrase "Keep your hands off my genitals." After finding out his mistake, Scott, along with his horny friend Cooper (Jacob Pitts), leaves for Germany.

When things don't go quite as planned, Scott and Cooper end up in London and then Paris, where they meet up with school friends Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Jamie (Travis Wester). A rapid-fire tour of Europe ensues, made up of little pseudo-skits and vignettes which, surprisingly, work more often than not.

But even in scenes where the humor fails, the cast keeps things palatable and even a little charming. Scott Mechlowicz can be stiff, but there are also scenes in which he displays an easy-going charm, and he makes a likeable protagonist. Michelle Trachtenbeg, fresh off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is all grown up now and has a casual sexiness that more than makes up for her underwritten role. And at the risk of sounding like a sexist, she has a pretty nice body, too. But the real standout is relative newcomer Jacob Pitts, who looks and acts a little like a young David Spade, only a lot less annoying. In what should have been a stock role, Pitts shines, delivering lines with a devil-may-care attitude that only serves to increase the humor. There are also some great cameos, including a terrific is-that-really-him showing by Matt Damon, as well as Lucy Lawless as an Amsterdam dominatrix.

Eurotrip cares about it's characters, despite the fact that some of them are pretty two-dimensional, and because the film does, we do too. American Pie is the only other gross-out comedy in which the fates of its stars actually matter, and that kind of investment is nice. Nothing that happens is really surprising or imaginative, but it's refreshing nonetheless.

The third act of Eurotrip crumbles, weighed down under dozens of cheap contrivances and coincidences. For a movie that is actually pretty believable for the first two-thirds (at least for the genre), it's disappointing that the climax is utterly implausable. Still, there are some good laughs in this third, and that is ultimately what really matters.

© 2004 Matt Noller