Friday, October 23, 2020

Things That I Used To Do: Mancation (2012)

I may not be devoting my time and effort to covering bad movies these days, but that doesn’t mean I stopped loving them. So every once in a while, I’ll spread a little bit of that love…


Before we dig in, a little history:

I’m still close with my childhood friends, and we’ve all reached an age where we’ve scattered to the four winds and started families of our own. With kids and family and day-to-day obligations, it’s become difficult for us to get together. To remedy this, a couple years ago we established THE MANCATION. This weekend – this glorious weekend – has been meticulously engineered to avoid birthdays, anniversaries and so on, and is etched in stone in our calendars as a time for us all to assemble and unleash all manner of manliness. As you can imagine, we look forward to The Mancation every year.

A number of Mancations ago, I was discussing the newly unveiled Mancation Crest (not pictured here, because then I’d have to gouge out your eyes) with Dave, the buddy of mine who designed it. Dave suddenly pulls out his phone to show me something he found in his research: Mancation, starring Joey Fatone of N’Sync fame.

We laugh, because we had absolutely no idea that a film titled Mancation existed, let alone that Joey Fatone has a film career. “You have to review this,” Dave says to me, and I promise to do so.

LATER THAT VERY DAY we’re breaking up into teams to pick up provisions for the evening, and Dave and I just so happen to be teamed up. We get what we need from the grocery store, and I notice an actual brick-and-mortar video store in the same plaza. “Hey Dave,” I say, “mind if we duck into the video store and see if there’s any used movies worth picking up cheap?” And Dave says…

You know where this is going, don’t you?

We open in Club Risqué, Philadelphia’s finest gentlemen’s club. No, there are no captions to tell me so, I just – never mind. It’s strangely quiet in the club, despite the fact that former ECW legend Tommy Dreamer is emceeing.

The camera cranes its way over to the booth where our Dudes have set up shop: there’s Vince the Vanilla Lead, the Faux Tuff Guy and Joey Fatone, and they’re all weakly woo-ing over their round of shots. The FTG swats the waitress in the bum, and then has the gall to stand up and taunt the bouncer twice his size without having his head caved in. Which is too bad, because I immediately hate the FTG. FTG celebrates by smashing his shot glass on the floor, because he’s trying to make that a thing.

So here’s the long and short: Vince is getting married to the boss’s daughter, despite clearly having a thing for the florist, Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years (who very clearly has a thing for him, too). The wedding is on a Friday so that the newlyweds can not have a honeymoon and Vince can be in the office Monday for the Big Merger with the “Japanese consortium.” Boss Daddy is played by Mike Starr in full-on Terrible Person mode. You’ll never imagine how this is going to turn out…

…partially because I’ll tell you now: Less than 24 hours after the “I do’s,” Vince walks in on his blushing bride taking the maid of honor from behind with a strap-on. Turns out she’s a lesbian and only married Vince so she could access her trust fund, and assumed Vince only married her to advance in Boss Daddy’s company. Oh nos! Looks like it’s time for a “Mancation”!

So off the lads go to Atlantic City, along with Vince’s “younger” brother Leo and his collection of sweater vests. Along the way, FTG’s mouth gets him thrown through a glass door by a gang, and in one of my favorite moments in the film, Joey Fatone simply sits in his car and watches the gang kick the hell out of FTG.

They arrive at a condo “owned” by FTG’s oddly not-present buddy (hmm), where they find a medicine cabinet full of “Bonerall: Ritilin For Your Dick.” These are the gags, folks. They do another round of shots, and FTG smashes yet another shot glass. Still not funny, though FTG certainly thinks so. I can’t tell you how annoying FTG is.

No, that’s not true: I totally can.

The Loveable Asshole is a really tough role to pull off. For clarity, I don’t mean someone who’s a bit dickish, like a Vince Vaughn character, or a delightful villain, like Al Swearigan from Deadwood. The Loveable Asshole character is a full-on, largely unrepentant asshole, yet is so charismatic that everyone loves him anyway. Jack Nicholson used to pull off the Loveable Asshole nicely, and if you’ve seen The Umbrella Academy or Misfits, you know that Robert Sheehan can give a master class in Loveable Asshole.

FTG is not a Loveable Asshole. He’s just a regular asshole, obvious and desperate and without an iota of wit. And he wears thin very, very quickly.

As the guys go about their shenanigans – Vince with his binder in hand! – we get clumsy discussions of over-planning (Vince) versus spontaneity (Joey Fatone) and restraint (Leo) versus a complete lack of consideration for anyone and anything (FTG). There are repeated run-ins with an off-beat Russian named Igor, Vince spends most of Sunday tracking down Winnie Cooper at her flower convention, and Leo begins receiving tutorials in dickishness from FTG.

That training consists of FTG gets a “Prince Albert” at a tattoo parlor. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to a tattoo of a pasta sauce jar but a piercing (Google “Prince Albert piercing” at your own risk). I’m not sure what the point is – other than to freak me out – but Leo seems to learn something.

It all winds up in the strangest climax I’ve seen in some time, where Vince and Winnie Cooper’s Big Moment is juxtaposed with FTG in a gang fight, Joey Fatone running away from elderly sadomasochists and Leo having a “controversial-off” with Igor that leaves most of the spectators vomiting. I’m not sure what the juxtaposition of those things is supposed to mean, other than that the film is mercifully almost over.

I tried to give Mancation a lot of leeway. I wanted to give Mancation a lot of leeway for sentimental reasons. But at the end of the day, this film is not worthy of the “Mancation” title.


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