The Package is the latest raunchy comedy from streaming conglomerate Netflix and producers Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm who are all best known for the long-running Comedy Central series Workaholics. This story revolves around five teenage friends who go camping for spring break when an unfortunate incident leads one of them to…well, it’s called The Package for a reason. This movie was yet another title that I went into knowing almost nothing about and that was smart because it is crazier than I thought but still does not make what I saw much better.
For one, The Package is sadly another comedy that does not treat itself as if it is visual. The director is Jake Szymanski whose previous work includes the forgettable 2016 comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates as well as the much funnier HBO mocumentaries 7 Days in Hell and Tour de Pharmacy. The Package falls more in line with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates because of how disposable it is. Szymanski’s direction is mostly flat and stationary; even when the camera moves, it is still not mind blowing. Christian Hoffman edits this story into a basic sequence of events, but the cuts become bizarre at points. Cinematographer Hillary Spera has smallest resume out of the three names mentioned and it shows. She mostly relies on close-ups with a wide sometimes thrown in to establish the landscapes, but it is nothing that I have never seen before outside of one or two clever sight gags. For more context, a defunct YouTube channel called Every Frame a Painting made a great video about how most modern comedies are straying away from visual comedy and The Package falls in line with this YouTuber is advising against.
The performances here are mostly fine but their characters are not as much. Four out of the five main characters are archetypes that we have seen in other coming-of-age movies. Daniel Doheny plays the sweet but shy protagonist Sean who is camping with a cute girl that he has a crush on named Becky (Geraldine Viswanathan of Blockers fame) that he has history with. Meanwhile, Sean’s asshole friend Donny (Luke Spenser Roberts) who is forced to camp with his asshole ex-girlfriend Sarah (Sadie Calvano). All of these characters are one-note due to the generic premise that they are confined to and their relationships go exactly where everyone would think they go. However, the clear standout is Sean and Donny’s stupid friend Jeremy (Eduardo Franco of American Vandal fame) who is also Becky’s twin brother. His character is not much more developed, but he has the funniest material, which is still rarely laugh-out-loud hilarious. Many of his jokes are so random to the point where it was probably improvised. None of these actors are bad and I can see them going far in their respective careers especially Franco. More props for them for committing to the crazy situations that the movie put them in.
The biggest issue with The Package similar to other comedies in its mold is how unfunny and unnoteworthy the screenplay is. Much of the humor is easy dick and ball jokes which will not bother anyone who enjoys that kind of crass humor; there’s also several pop culture and only one made me laugh. With a outline as familiar as this one, screenwriters Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider could have taken the themes associated with the coming-of-age genre and flipped them on their heads. They can elevate this movie from average to at least good, but Burrows are Mider are less concerned with telling compelling narrative and more so on getting the biggest reactions. At a 94-minute runtime, The Package although there are several moments when the movie should end but doesn’t, which I would not mind as much if they didn’t occur so frequently. On the other hand, I have to give the movie points for how crazy certain scenes are.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5
One description to sum up The Package is “an R-rated Disney Channel.” The main talent is promising and I would this movie over Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates simply because it is more bizarre but that isn’t saying much. It’s straight-to-Netflix so anyone who is fan of this humor should see it.