In the most inspired sequence in 2002's underrated The Rules Of Attraction, a predatory college student describes his European vacation in a blistering montage of drug-addled monument-hopping and wild sexcapades. It's the worst image of a young American overseas, consuming an entire continent like an all-you-can-eat buffet spread out before him. Many of the same ideas are at play in Eurotrip, an amiably rude T&A comedy in the National Lampoon tradition, but it covers less ground, offers fewer laughs, and lasts more than 20 times longer. Written by Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer (who also directs), the brain trust responsible in part for last year's The Cat In The Hat, Eurotrip seems like the result of a particularly half-hearted brainstorming session. The writers' task is simple: Find some excuse to send four high-school graduates on a whirlwind tour of Europe's major cities, then pick on the most obvious foils. London? Soccer hooligans. Paris? A mime. Rome? The Pope. Berlin? Hitler. Each city has enough fodder for a self-contained 15-minute episode, and the scenes that don't work are easily relegated to the closing credits or the pre-planned DVD extras, because the jokes never build off each other as they do in a well-constructed farce. It's just setup and punchline, setup and punchline, paced at the steady rhythm of a mediocre stand-up-comedy routine. Ironically, several of Eurotrip's funniest bits come before the characters even break out their passports, including a riotous big-star cameo at a graduation party and a lowbrow dumb-blonde boob gag that works because it drags on several beats longer than expected. Leading a cast top-lined by no-names and C-listers, Scott Mechlowicz stars as a lovelorn teen who impulsively heads to Europe in search of a hot German pen-pal he met online. With his dim-witted best friend Jacob Pitts in tow, Mechlowicz gets sent to London as a courier, and they Clark Griswold their way through Europe on no budget, stopping in Paris to hook up with two vacationing siblings, played by Travis Wester and Michelle Trachtenberg. The group dynamic is at least as rote as the humor: Mechlowicz plays the soulful Everyman, Wester's the uptight nerd with an itinerary (who gets laid), Pitts is the party animal (who doesn't), and Trachtenberg is the unexpected bikini-stuffer. Since Eurotrip touts its political incorrectness like a calling card—the working title was The Ugly Americans—the film's boorish, frat-guy view of Europe should probably be taken lightly. If anything, European audiences stand to learn more about American hang-ups than their own foibles. Lesson #1: Based on a healthy percentage of the jokes in Eurotrip, Yankee male heteros worry more about not being gay than they do about the opposite sex.
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