Film Review: The Layover

Best friends fight over a guy in an airless summer comedy.
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The director of The Layover, William H. Macy, is a very talented actor, and the film’s writers, David Hornsby and Lance Krall, have previously written for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which is a very funny show. Because The Layover also includes appearances by Kal Penn and the wonderfully bonkers Molly Shannon, it might seem primed to deliver the laughs, or at least breezily pass the time. But this isn’t the case. The gags aren’t quite silly enough to make you grin, quite vulgar enough to make you groan in appreciation (a la the recent Girls Trip), or clever enough to make you laugh outright. It’s a middling interpretation of familiar material. In all, The Layover is a trip better avoided.

Very little in the lives of hot Meg (the model Kate Upton) and overanxious Kate (Alexandra Daddario) is going right. Meg’s line of skincare products isn’t selling, and the principal at the school where Kate teaches English has just suggested she rethink her career: Her hair always looks great; maybe hairdressing is her calling? So Meg, the more impulsive of the two, gets drunk and books them on a beach vacation. Once onboard their flight, Kate gets the window seat, Meg snags the aisle, and, lo and behold, between them in the forsaken middle seat there appears a man just as gorgeous as, if not more so than, the two ladies who will spend the next several days competing for his attention. When their plane is grounded in St. Louis due to an impending storm, Meg and Kate battle for the prize of well-coiffed Ryan (Matt Barr) in earnest. People are drugged, panic attacks are had, poo is stepped in, hair is pulled, and we do not see nearly enough of Molly Shannon before we arrive at the crux of what appears to be this summer’s morality lesson, according to its female comedies: To reaffirm your friendships, treat your girlfriends as appallingly as they treat you.

The film has the low-budget look of many—although, to be fair to the creators on that site, not all—YouTube videos. More importantly, its writing takes little advantage of the mundane settings and petty revenge ploys to mine original comedy. Comedic scenes like a diving contest gone anticlimactically awry at a hotel pool or a prolonged trip to the festering bathroom of a gas station only emphasize the mundanity and pettiness, because nothing is either piquantly observed or refreshed by pure silliness. A familiar premise, setting, or even characters, are not problems in themselves. What becomes problematic is a failure to find in well-known types and situations—the odd-couple protagonists or the love-triangle story—something novel or unexpected, to say nothing of funny.

Matt Jones (or Badger from “Breaking Bad”) makes for a convincing good guy, and though frequently called upon to act like a shrew or a simp, Daddario has comedic chops. But like the inconvenience after which it’s named, The Layover will have you wondering when you can be up and moving again. Happily, at 88 minutes, it’s a brief stop.

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