Film Review: PrematureEnjoyable but lightweight teen comedy is less novel than expected.
The recent loss of Harold Ramis does no favors to Dan Beers' Premature, a modest but likeable spin on Groundhog Day that would play better for audiences who hadn't spent time reflecting on what an unimprovable film that was, and how rewatchable it is even after two decades. When compared to Bill Murray's eternally repeating day of self-improvement, the struggle of a lackluster high-school kid to figure out his love life by living the same day over and over is small potatoes. The novelty here—that this adolescent's life hits the reset button whenever he ejaculates—is good for a few laughs, and may be weird enough to attract a small audience in theatres. But the execution isn't outrageous or funny enough to make a big splash in the teen-comedy marketplace.
John Karna plays Rob, whose plans for this school day are to make a good impression with a college interviewer, survive the usual bullying in the hallway, and spend a quiet evening with good friend Gabrielle (Katie Findlay) watching the national spelling bee finals. But life intervenes in ways both cruel and miraculous: Though things go badly on many fronts, he also winds up having an unexpected tutoring session with Angela (Carlson Young), the school's resident object of lust, who invites him to her place and has more than studying on her mind. Just as that scenario reaches its climax, though, Rob wakes up as if from a wet dream, starting the same day over again.
The script, by Beers and Mathew Harawitz, offers a little less invention in this endless-repeat scenario than it might have. But Karna's initially stone-faced performance grows more enjoyable as Rob embraces the fact that he can do what he wants at school, safe in the knowledge that there will be no consequences as soon as he does what teenage boys are best at—so long as he can find a private place for a few moments of self-abuse, he'll escape to a fresh day. He briefly becomes "the Douchey Lama," philosophically embracing a life without repercussions.
An early focus on getting things right in bed with Angela plays out halfheartedly, and Rob's eventual attempt to figure out why he's stuck in a loop in hopes of escaping it proceeds without real clues. Though viewers will draw their own conclusions about what Rob's priorities should be, the film doesn't really lead them gently in that direction. Findlay makes an appealing should-be romantic interest; Alan Tudyk, as a surprisingly emotional interviewer, goes broader than usual but gets many of the film's biggest laughs. Tech departments are fine if similarly unsubtle; though the direction has some clumsy moments, they evoke ’80s low-budget comedies in ways that may be intentional.
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