The feature directorial debut of Dan Beers, Premature, doesn’t capture the complete or debaucherous high school experience like most of its raunch-fest predecessors (“American Pie,” “Superbad”) do, but the comedy is smart and in tune with a new generation of frustrated hornballs.
At its heart is high school senior Rob (John Karna) and his world of wet dreams. An interview with a Georgetown recruiter isn’t necessarily a huge concern when Rob’s mom catches him fresh out of a cerebral fantasy with his pants down. Oh, the long shameful walk downstairs for breakfast. Oh, the awkward silence. Pops wants his boy to follow in his footsteps by attending his alma mater and mom only wants a stress-free laundry session. Little does Rob know that he will relive this same day over and over and over again, until he loses his virginity.
Like “Groundhog Day,” with each iteration Rob either basks in his hopelessness or makes minor tweaks for more favorable outcomes. En route to a Georgetown admission interview Rob gets blasted in the crotch by jocks armed with urine-filled water guns (hard to not appreciate their ingenuity) but comes to the realization that he can flip the script, or rather, flip the piss with enough practice. Premature becomes surprisingly funny with each reset. The best part is Beers and fellow screenwriter Mathew Harawitz don’t rely on steady profanity and constant dick jokes to get their point across. No nudity either.
The writers understand the natural comedy of Rob’s attempts to seal the deal, and provide a steady amount of laughs with sharp dialogue from the supporting characters.
Loyal best friend Stanley (Craig Roberts, “Neighbors”) gets the most zingers; in one scene he insightfully lashes at the jocks on the volleyball team with, “You’re volleyball players. You don’t get pick on people.” Token nerd/smart kid Arthur (Adam Riegler, “The Way Way Back”) has some outstanding lines as well when approached for help. And one can never go wrong with character actor Alan Tudyk (“42”). He makes for an interesting interviewer as the Georgetown recruiter.
However, Katie Findlay is the revelation of Premature. The 23-yeard-old actress has starred in television shows such as “The Carrie Diaries” and “The Killing,” and is radiant in her latest film role as Gabby, the BFF of sexed-up Rob. Findlay has all the right moves with her nonverbal acting and gives her character a subtle sexiness which reminds she is not quite the girl next door. Gabby is a nature smoker rather than a lunchtime toker, and lets the events of the world unfold as her virginal pal Rob relives piss guns, awkward bedroom romps and uncomfortable, messy mornings.
And as Findlay is a star-in-the-making (although John Karna is satisfactory in the lead role), Premature would have been a much more interesting film if Gabby was reliving the same day of sexual agony. Perhaps the genre isn’t quite ready for a woman in such a role. At least they’ve taken the first steps by not relying on 93 minutes of booze, lewdness and house parties to generate the laughs.