You'd be surprised at how enjoyable this bizarre teen comedy is.
Director: Jake Szymanski (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Date)
Screenplay: Kevin Burrows, Matt Mider
Runtime: 1h 34 min
Cast: Daniel Doheny (Alex Strangelove), Geraldine Viswanathan (The Broken Hearts Gallery)
By: John DeSando
Whether The Package is crass or cringe, it is comically a cut above the usual teensploitation of sexy young folk in awkwardly dangerous setups. This comedy has one member lose his member in an accident as the group of five goes on a seemingly harmless camping trip.
After one of them loses his penis, and it’s found, the laughs and tension mount as they try to get him to a hospital for the re-membering. Throughout writers Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider keep the dialogue humorous with so many jokes and cultural references that you might promise yourself to return to catch them all.
Although many set pieces and ripostes seem to come too fast and loose, the situations border on the absurd, the words are dicey, and the characters affectionate, and their quest to save the sex life of their buddy sincere. As is usual, adults like the doctor and the redneck don’t some out favorably, but that irreverence is part of the picture’s charm and purpose—to make adults stupider than the teens to make the teems feel good about themselves.
Along the way characters connect romantically but not foolishly, for it takes some negotiating to accept back someone who has been in another relationship, or who left their relationship a while ago and needs to be convinced to return. The gender politics almost dominate rather than the penis; the two women begin as the smarter, hipper sex while the arc moves toward equality as the boys show a thing or two about their humanity as well as their masculinity.
The laughs are not uproarious nor is the sex outlandish—everything in this odd comedy confirms the normalcy of the least of them, and most of all they eventually act like responsible adults needing to cooperate to save the ‘life” of a member. The whole production is smartly put together enough to please even a master of raucous mirth like Judd Apatow.
In a quiet way, The Package is profound about the good and the bad of teens, whose charity supersedes their natural selfishness, whose common sense carries the day. As responsible adults, I think they’re going to make it. Available on Netflix.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com