Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

AFI Fest Review: 'The Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On' Loses Its Way In This Overworked, Predictable Road Movie

The Playlist By Emma Bernstein | The Playlist November 14, 2012 at 5:58PM

Extremely personal films can prove problematic. In general, art can serve very well as a form of expression and catharsis, with the medium of film catering to this cause with particular success due to its multi-sensory stimulation. But when an individual’s emotional release begins to overwhelm or even engulf the story, it doesn’t make for exceptionally good entertainment. "The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had with My Pants On," – helmed by first timer Drew Denny, who also wrote, produced and stars in the film – is a beautifully shot and well-acted piece that is unfortunately marred by heavy-handedness and a lack of relatable characters. And what could be a wholly poignant and involving reconstruction of Denny’s own experience coping with the loss of her father slowly becomes an enmeshed, uninviting and distant self-reflection.
1
he Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On

Extremely personal films can prove problematic. In general, art can serve very well as a form of expression and catharsis, with the medium of film catering to this cause with particular success due to its multi-sensory stimulation. But when an individual’s emotional release begins to overwhelm or even engulf the story, it doesn’t make for exceptionally good entertainment. "The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had with My Pants On," – helmed by first timer Drew Denny, who also wrote, produced and stars in the film – is a beautifully shot and well-acted piece that is unfortunately marred by heavy-handedness and a lack of relatable characters. And what could be a wholly poignant and involving reconstruction of Denny’s own experience coping with the loss of her father slowly becomes an enmeshed, uninviting and distant self-reflection.

Andy (Denny) is driving east from Los Angeles to honor her father’s final request: she will scatter his ashes at various points en route to Austin, then give whatever’s left of his remains to her mother, a recent recovering addict who lives there with her sponsor. This difficult task is somewhat lightened by the presence of high school chum Liv (Sarah Hagan), an actress with an audition in Austin, and her dog, Chloe, who offer support, insight and excessively cute close up shots (of Chloe, not Liv).

The Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On

The travelers stop in the Mojave Desert, Arizona, and on the shoulder of Route 66, and each layover gives Andy the opportunity to say goodbye in a different way: she chucks her father’s ashes into the wind (and they fly right back in her face, prompting the morbidly hilarious line, "I think I just ate some of my dad"), sprinkles them over a cliff and buries them under a rock inscribed with his initials. And yet, these impromptu memorials offer little to no solace. Rather, Andy seems too content to ignore reality, and an initial vulnerability peeks through her shakily indifferent and carefree veneer less and less. With a character so averse to feeling her emotions, the headlong crash into despair and grief she refuses to accept is inevitable. Combined with the fact that neither lead warrants much investment from the audience, this predictability makes the drive toward that moment fairly dull.

And it could have been so beautiful, too. The spectacular vistas of the southwest – striated mountains, scrubby green bushes that set off the red of the desert rocks, sloping white sand dunes and powder blue skies filled with puffy clouds – are captured with understated elegance by cinematographer Will Basanta and initiate a celebration of untouched wilderness that, sadly, doesn’t make it past the first act. Amidst the main storyline about dealing (or not dealing) with death was the potential for an interesting commentary on man versus nature and where the two meet. But that chance is squandered when endless shots of Andy and Liv inside the car with their hair blowing dramatically out the window are favored instead. Grieving is a process, and while that process can be gradual and introspective, the excess of these qualities in a static, ugly location (like a car) is incredibly alienating. Denny is working out her pain onscreen, and though that event has massive capacity for creative impact, its overpowering presence instead leads to a result that’s painful to watch.

The source of the elongated title is revealed when Andy quotes her father, a Vietnam vet. When she was younger, he would tell her, "killing someone was the most fun he ever had with his pants on." Liv, responding to her friend’s laughter at the irreverent story, says, "that’s messed up." Though small, this interchange is crucial in establishing the women’s personae: the reactionary and the conciliatory traditionalist, the "bad girl" and the "good girl," diametrically opposed from the outset. Andy has always been difficult, lashing out against her strict father and absentee mother with piercings, tattoos and criminal behavior; despite Sapphic proclivities, she makes quick friends with local boys in a rundown bar. Liv, on the other hand, is prim and virginal (she has a large-eyed, purse-sized pooch for crying out loud), and even a dare won’t make her behave badly. Her attempts at seduction and shoplifting fall so flat, and Andy’s glee in challenging her to be rebellious is so foreseeably antagonistic, that they do little to shade either character with complexity or surprise.

The Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On

Denny clearly knows her film history, but the peppering of historical references in 'Fun Pants' serves to distract and diminish from her text rather than imbuing it with meaning. A series of noir-inspired sequences where Liv and Andy act out scenes related to the former’s audition are shot in superb Super 16 black and white, but feel out of place here: the actresses’ parodies of Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck would be right at home in "Sin City." Similar dissonance arises across the film, as in the use of split-screen instead of the typical shot-reverse shot that hearkens the technique in "Persona," or when Andy dons a costume reminiscent of Jeanne Moreau’s cross-dressing ensemble in "Jules and Jim." These homages are cheaply done and mostly miss the tone of this contemplative, private movie, leaving it out in the cold when comparisons arise.

'Fun Pants,' which also sports hints of "Easy Rider" and "Thelma and Louise" – but without the knowable camaraderie or dramatic payoffs of either – has a promising dual buddy film-road movie premise, but fails to deliver anything exciting or original along the way. The trope of self-discovery in the desert wears thin quickly, and the parade of knitted brows, teary eyes and pouty mouths, set to solar flares and blowing winds, does nothing to make it last longer. 'Fun Pants' concludes precisely where you think it will, but long after you’re done with the journey. [C-]

This article is related to: AFI Fest, Review, The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had with My Pants On


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates