SXSW Film Review – Premature
Being in high school is an unusual time in a person’s life. Their body goes through changes they know little about, adulthood lurks a few years away, and inevitably, they’ll have to deal with their own sexuality. Filmmakers have used these ideas to make countless sex comedies. They dealt with the awkward situations people go through when trying to do it for the first time. How often have we’ve seen someone – usually a young male – attempt to lose their virginity with a hot girl only to embarrass themselves in grand fashion? Now imagine having to go through that experience over and over again? That’s the premise of Dan Beers’ Premature (2014). As the title oh so subtly hints, this is the story of a person trying to get a “grasp” of their situation. Pun intended.
Co-written by Beers and Mathew Harawitz, the plot contains all the normal tropes of a sex comedy. A regular, somewhat nerdy kid has the lucky chance to have sex with the most attractive girl in his class. But his inability to keep his hormones in check leaves him unable to perform at the crucial moment. This is pretty basic stuff, but a twist has been thrown in. Under some magical circumstance, our protagonist has been caught in some random glitch within the space-time continuum. He has been forced to relive one of the worst days of his life – regarding both his educational future and his first sexual encounter – repeatedly. If that wasn’t bad enough, the day restarts with him having an orgasm prematurely and waking up to his mother catching him in bed with a massive wet stain.
Let’s back up for a second. The conceit of having someone relive the same day multiple times is a pretty risky gamble the filmmakers are taking. This is directly lifted from Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day (1993) in which Bill Murray’s weatherman character goes through the exact same thing. In many people’s eyes, that film is a comedy classic. I’m sure the makers of Premature know this, and are aware the two will be compared.
Rob (John Karna) is a high school senior on the verge of graduating. His mind is focused on acing his college admission interview and attending Georgetown like his father, but his body (namely the lower half) is focused on all the attractive girls at school. Seriously, all the female characters here are played by incredibly good-looking actresses, who are clearly too old to be in high school. Katie Findlay, who plays Rob’s childhood friend Gabrielle, is arguably the prettiest of them all.
Unfortunately, Rob’s interview with the Georgetown recruiter (Alan Tudyk) doesn’t go according to plan. Some of this has to do with the recruiter’s own emotional hang-ups that come spilling out. Rob doesn’t have much time to mull over this, as resident hot girl Angela (Carlson Young) invites him over to her place to study. As Rob’s buddy Stanley (Craig Roberts) intuits, “study” is secret code for having sex. It’s strange how movies always think when girls invite a guy over to their place it’s always for some action. Could a girl asking a guy to study actually mean she just wants to study? As soon as Rob arrives at her place, Angela drops the textbooks and tries to jump into his pants. But everything gets ruined when Rob inadvertently has his orgasm too early, and zing! He gets transported back to the beginning of the day, only to go through the whole experience again.
Here’s a question: if the day restarts once Rob has an orgasm, what happens if he doesn’t have one? Will he go through the next day, week, month? If he refrained from having one until a year later, will he get brought all the way back? The film doesn’t explore this possibility. In fact, it goes in the opposite direction. This must have the record for most male orgasms in a movie, as Rob is portrayed as overly sex-crazed. There are times where he has one before his lunch break. A funny look from a girl will have his heart pounding. A slight breeze can pass and his day would start over.
What’s missing in Premature are the philosophical aspects that come with reliving the same day. They’re glossed over, but never explored in depth. Instead, they’re brushed aside, replaced by cheap sex jokes. In a few scenes, Rob finds himself stuck in a dangerous predicament, having to relieve himself to get out of it, to the shock of others. Nearly all of the female characters are brainless, and at its lowest the comedy goes for racial stereotypes. Despite not being that funny, the worst thing about the script is its predictability. We know where all this is going, where Rob is eventually going to end up, and whom he is going to end up with. We already know the outcome before we even reach the climax.
Also, be sure to check out our interview with Alan Tudyk from SXSW 2014.