If you feel like you’ve been waiting all your life for someone to finally make a raunchy comedy about teenagers bonding over a night of hedonistic excess, well it’s finally here. (I kid, of course. Is there a trope in existence that has been overplayed more?) And, just as you’d expect, Hulu’s latest original (and I use that term loosely), director Jeremy Garelick’s The Binge, has all the appeal of the inside of a toilet at a frat house.

While the initial pitch clearly involved creating a satire of The Purge franchise (swapping violence for drugs), the film instead flails around miserably for its entire runtime, as if just throwing a lot of crap at the wall would eventually result in something sticking.

The premise is simple enough. It’s the year 2032, all narcotics and alcohol are illegal, except for tonight, the one night a year when anything goes, from noon to midnight. At American High School (I’m sure there’s a joke there, but I haven’t found it yet), young Griffin (Skyler Gisondo) is nervous about asking the out-of-his-league Lena (Grace Van Dien) to prom, nevermind the fact that she also happens to be the daughter of Principal Carlsen (Vince Vaughan).

Meanwhile, Griffin’s best friend Hags (Dexter Darden) is gung-ho for the night of debauchery, which is to be capped off with a huge party, during which teams volunteer to “Run The Gauntlet” for a chance at Binge Night immortality (assuming, of course, that they don’t die in the attempt). The only issue is that Hags and Griffin have to escape their own parents and then secure wristbands for admission. But that’s nothing a hefty dose of one-night-only narcotics can’t fix.

Over the course of the next few hours, more mind-altering substances are consumed than are produced in Colombia on an annual basis (and the sobering-up time at every step of the way is mind-bogglingly quick). After gathering their goth-loner buddy Andrew (Eduardo Franco), the kids tear through the bar at the local watering hole, get high on PCP/hash joints with their limo driver, and finally down a couple-dozen narcotics-laced tacos, all before even arriving at the big bash—at which cocaine, alligators, hen urine, and “purple drank” all figure prominently.

Writer Jordan VanDina, seemingly, had the world as his oyster when sitting down to write this thing, so the fact that he chose the lazy way out is ridiculously disappointing. Perhaps he saw Old School or American Pie too many times in his youth and figured he could coast by on simply injecting as much crass humor and excess as he could. What made those movies so timeless and successful, though, was what filled in the cracks—smart observations, genuine satire, and memorable characters. The Binge has none of that.

Sure, having a Morgan Freeman sound-alike narrate the proceedings is a nice touch, and a very clever musical-theater interlude shows what kind of brilliance the film could have provided. None of it is enough to keep The Binge from crashing and burning in spectacular fashion, however. They may have been hoping for the next Superbad, but instead we all just get something super bad.


1/5 stars