Cinema Review: Premature | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Studio: IFC Midnight
Directed by Dan Beers

Jul 01, 2014 Web Exclusive
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The vague pleasures of Premature are intermittent and inconsistent and fairly conventional, and yet they are there. The story of a young man who gets stuck in a time loop that is only ever reset when he orgasms, the film will probably be tiresomely described as “Groundhog Day meets American Pie”, though this only slightly eclipses the latter for the sheer fact that it seems kind of sincere, despite its vulgarities.

John Karna plays the lead, Rob, a character that does not fit tidily into the tropey “schlub who gets the girl”. He’s not too awkward, he’s moderately good looking, and Karna’s line delivery accentuates Rob’s wit. But neither is the character particularly nuanced or complex: his father has more drive for him to go to Georgetown University than he does, and Rob’s switching whom he has feelings for are mere staples of the genre. He’s weirdly charming even though there’s not much to him, which has more to do with the thinly written character by writer/director Dan Beers and co-screenwriter Matthew Harawitz than it is a remark on Karna. It’s kind of touching watching him go insane every day, making his epiphanies that much more impressive to watch. For Karna’s credit, there is a duality there: someone who seems new to acting and therefore genuine, and someone who has seen these kinds of films before and knows how to build off of them in order to carve his own performance.

One can tell that, judging by the dialogue and brash humor (particularly from Craig Roberts’s Stanley) that Premature is following the line of teen comedies that are more like Easy A than Pretty in Pink, irony in full swing. These are teen comedies that want to approach sex much more directly than John Hughes ever did, and yet try to acknowledge the narrative infrastructure that Hughes seemingly established. While Premature never diverges much from such ideas—especailly with regard to Rob’s friends, Stanley and Gabriel (played by Katie Findlay)—it manages to get a fair bit of mileage out of them anyways.

Stanley, though by all means the character with the most offensive jokes, is an interesting character primarily because of Craig Roberts. The archetype of the “lovable asshole” literally does not compute with me, and yet Stanley, though he should be to my eyes and for all intents and purposes repugnant and sex-crazed and kinda racist, is kind of amusing. It’s my personal intertext at play: Craig Roberts is probably best known for playing Oliver Tate in Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, and Tate is rather harmless and ostensibly ineffectual. So, having Roberts sputter crass humor has the same effect of seeing Betty White spew sexual innuendos: it’s quaint and unexpected.

Katie Findlay is also a delight, never overplaying her sensitivity and instead whipping out quick one liners. It’s nice that the friendship between her and Rob (and Stanley and Rob for that matter) is nicely laid out in the film.

Though there are certainly very questionable scenes in the film, and while the laughs are inconsistent, the lead performances and the authenticity they bring to a script that feels, for all of its quirks and gimmicks pretty well worn, Premature nonetheless is fairly amusing. It’s not overbearing, nor is it explosively good. Sure, one might argue that the film’s central conceit is about self-actualization and masculinity, but I think that might be a little feeble at best. Premature’s onanistic pleasures are worth a look.

Author rating: 6/10

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