The Layover (R)

Review Date: August 31st, 2017

The Layover is an appalling movie - a reworked version of the essential plot elements of 2011's Something Borrowed with everything worthwhile (and there wasn't much to begin with) removed. The result is an unpleasant, unwatchable example of why people no longer love romantic comedies. Directed by William H. Macy, from whom (at least based on his acting resume) I would have expected something better, The Layover is a tortured, torturous tale of two bffs willing to throw away their lifetime friendship for a roll-in-the-hay with a well-sculpted fireman. It's no wonder the movie has sat around for two years awaiting a distributor and, when it got one, it headed straight for video (except for an obligatory run in a few "select theaters").

The film introduces us to Kate (Alexandra Daddario) and Meg (Kate Upton), two women who have been friends since kindergarten and currently share an apartment. On a plane to Florida for a girls' getaway, their seating arrangement has an empty seat between them - one that's soon filled by hunky Ryan (Matt Barr). Kate and Meg are both attracted to Ryan but their feelings seem immaterial - after all, when they land, they will be parting with Kate and Meg heading for sun and fun and Ryan off to a bachelor party and wedding. Enter a hurricane that closes the airports and forces the trio to spend time in St. Louis while waiting for the weather to clear. While there, Kate and Meg determine that all's fair in love and war and, daggers drawn, pull out the stops trying to win over Ryan.

I guess this is supposed to be a comedy although I didn't laugh once. Even the gross-out stuff seems recycled and Macy, despite his stellar credentials in front of the camera, is tone-deaf when it comes to what should be slam-dunk humor. The characters often come across as disturbed and creepy and a lot of the supposedly "funny" scenes are mean-spirited (ruining a wedding in service of a punch-line). As for the romantic element…there's no chemistry evident anywhere. Not between Alexandra Daddario and Matt Barr. Not between Kate Upton and Matt Barr. Not even between Daddario and Upton. And there's not a lot of great acting, either. Daddario has shown herself to be a capable performer in the past but you wouldn't know it based on her work here. Upton was cast because of an impressive body, not because of an impressive body of work. And Barr never loses the "deer in the headlights" look. Despite a lengthy TV resume, his stupefied appearance is that of someone who's never previously been in front of a camera (possibly because he just read the script his agent committed him to).

With Kate and Meg, we're supposed to be observing a Mary-Ann/Ginger dynamic. Kate is the girl next-door - sweet, attractive in an unpretentious way, and not sexually experienced. Meg, on the other hand, is a hypersexual knock-out who's overflowing with self-confidence. The way this unfolds is for Kate to come across like a doormat and Meg to emulate the spawn of Satan. To win, Meg is willing to lock her rival in the second-most filthy bathroom in the world (the filthiest still being the one in Trainspotting) and put all their lives in danger during a long car ride. Kate, on the other hand, is insufferably meek - all she does is whine, scream, and silently fume. Neither is the kind of character audiences root for yet the filmmakers seem to think we're supposed to be cheering for Kate and not feeling too badly for Meg. What might have worked as a dark comedy (if they had managed to find a workable joke or two) fails utterly as a flight of fancy.

The concept of women fighting over men seems hopelessly outdated, even if the man is obviously just a boy-toy. It might be justifiable if the script was sharper, the characters more intelligent, and the humor more than just a collection of overused, lazy gags. Nothing in The Layover works. The movie insults the intelligence of every potential viewer by thinking they'll buy into recycled crap. Much as I respect Macy as a performer, if this is representative of his behind-the-camera capabilities, he should stick to acting.

© 2017 James Berardinelli