the package 2018

The Package Review – When Penis Jokes Work

Tomatometer: 50% Audience Score: 54% IMDb: 5.5

Coming from the director who gave us Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers, we immediately get a sense of what’s coming in The Package. A big, warm, emotional core surrounded by a sea of juvenile crassness. But this is why it succeeds. Unlike other entries such as American Pie, The Package balances out its ludicrously immature story with sincerely kindhearted characters and a directing-style suited for more big-budget film fare. This isn’t a B-movie meant to be relegated to a worst-case viewing scenario when your Netflix queue just isn’t loading. It’ll deliver plenty of laughs, unusually well-choreographed action sequences and genuinely heartfelt moments, a strange set of outcomes for a movie whose premise is a guy accidentally cutting his penis.

The Plot

Sean (Daniel Doheny), Donnie (Luke Spencer Roberts), and Jeremy (Eduardo Franco) are about to head off camping into the woods, celebrating Sean’s brief return from a German school for the summer break. But the bro-cation is cut short when Sean and Donnie find out they won’t be alone. Jeremy has invited his sister Becky (Geraldine Viswanathan) and her friend Sarah (Sadie Calvano), quite a problematic scenario since Sean has a crush on Becky and Donnie just broke up with Sarah.

With the invitation too late to rescind, they head off into the woods and have a drunken caper at night when Jeremy leads away from the group for a little piss, with a switchblade in hand. Sean and Donnie, thinking it’s a good idea to surprise him, do just that. Unwittingly in his drunken stupor, Jeremy loses his most prized possession. What follows next is an hour and a half adventure where four friends reconcile and reconnect in the hopes of saving Jeremy’s penis.

The Package (2018) Trailer

Cinematography and Score

The only other work of director Jake Szymanski that I’ve seen is Step Brothers, where Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play the titular characters who can’t stand each other. While that film didn’t boast a strong visual direction, Szymanski’s more recent entries, high-stakes parodies like 7 Days in Hell and Tour de Pharmacy, do.

He brings the same over-the-top intensity to The Package, treating the movie like a high-stakes action film under the care of an auteur. Slow motion sequences, ultra-close closeups, and music to match. There are some wildly vivid and visually hyperfocused scenes in this movie, unnerving given the premise, but its balanced out with spells that play out as a routine comedy.

The Characters

Add to this some genuinely decent characters, and we have a winning combination. The four leads aren’t the kinds of people you’d find in a typical adolescent movie. These aren’t football players or your usual bros talking about dicks. These are your dorky teenagers, both in appearance and mind, and it’s a mix of people that you don’t come across often.

For one, Geraldine Viswanathan isn’t your white blonde co-lead. Daniel Doheny is your uber-friendly highschooler, the one you go for help with homework or other academically-inclined support. Luke Spencer Roberts and Eduardo Franco, though channeling their best version of crass sex talk, are hopeless romantics at heart, both striving for meaningful relationships with the women in their lives. Sadie Calvano’s IT girl exterior is counterbalanced with a more measured and sensitive heart. These characters care about things, the things most teenagers would care about at their age, but it’s approached from the point of naive sincerity, making them more agreeable than the teenagers you might find in an American Pie if you will.

Appealing to Our Inner TeenagerĀ 

There’s an inherent laugh factor built into The Package appealing to our inner teenager, making us giggle or laugh everytime we hear the word “dick” or “penis.” There’s no way around it. The characters aren’t saying it because they can, or because they want to be crass. They’re saying the word because they’re dealing with a dick. There’s no avoiding it.

On top of this, the fact that they’re talking about a friend’s dick, a friend whose sister is also present, amplifies this childish gag. And they aren’t dealing with just a friend’s dick. They’re dealing with his cut dick. Having these multiple layers of context, turn the words “dick” and “penis” to a more heightened sense of humor. Penis enlightenment if you will.

Using this indispensable laugh factor, writers Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider concoct some outlandish scenarios to draw out even stronger comedy material, using the word and coupling it with typically troubling situations. It all comes to a head when the group must convince an eleven-year-old to hand the keys to his father’s boat while the old man is fly-fishing. A good cop-bad cop routine follows, and it’s not easy on the eyes.

Conclusion

I was highly skeptical going into The Package, expecting the story to reach a low ceiling for its laughs and character development. I was wrong to come in with this assumption and can say wholeheartedly, that you can suck on this thing for an hour and a half.

Sankha started Not So Rotten because his friends didn’t like Mortdecai. He has yet to review the film for the website.

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