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Theatrical release date

 20 August, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Stag Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 18, 2012

Reviewed at the 2012 Twin Cities Film Fest

“Stag” arrives in the shadow of “The Hangover,” though this tale of bachelor party shenanigans emerges from the Canadian film industry. Just how Canadian is this movie? Well, there’s a stripper, but she remains clothed for 99% of her screentime and the feature ends with a father reaffirming his love for his family. “Stag” isn’t exactly a raunchy explosion of men behaving badly, and it’s not all that funny either. True to its Canadian heritage, it’s mild stuff, hoping to come across triumphantly ill-mannered with erection jokes and the occasional curse word, missing a devilish spark that could amplify its tightly mittened tomfoolery to pleasing extremes.

After years spent pranking his friends on their stag nights, Ken (Donald Faison) is about to receive a taste of his own medicine, genuinely fearful of what his pals have in store for him on his special evening. Joining the fun, frustrated dad Luke (Jon Dore), failed actor Carl (Pat Thornton), closeted homosexual Henry (Jefferson Brown), aging brute Paul (Tony Nappo), and vengeful Rory (Brendan Gall) gather in a dismal bar to wreak havoc on Ken’s evening, only to find themselves distracted by personal concerns, documented by stripper Candy (an aptly cast Leah Renee Cudmore), who blogs about the male midlife crisis. Understanding that his worst fears won’t be realized, Ken relaxes and tries to enjoy the evening, watching his newly enlightened buddies thwarting any salacious activity, hoping to refocus their misguided ways during a time devoted to debauchery.

“Stag” opens with a look at Ken’s horrible pranks, viewing the aftermath of too much drinking and free time, with the impish man stripping one of his friends down to paint a clown’s face on his torso and genitals, while another is left passed out with a wedge of pineapple placed between his buttocks. It’s a lewd opener, promising a randy tone to “Stag” that writer/director Brett Heard never follows through on, eschewing bachelor party mischief for a character study on the disorientation of thirtysomethings coming to grips with their own maturity and aging self as they taste the saltiness of middle age. The title and opening act suggest a certain direction the feature doesn’t ultimately head in, avoiding an escalation of the evening’s activities to peruse character woes, with most of these guys lacking a certain snap to their comedic misery.

Heard doesn’t have much of imagination for the party breakdown, playing with gay panic and puzzling sexual temptation as his primary means of humor. It’s tired writing with performances to match, finding most of the cast much too eager to please, generating a plastic sitcom atmosphere to a movie that should feel at least a little filthy. Faison is perhaps the most egregious mugger in the cast, working overtime to make viewers feel the “fun” of the feature. More subdued work from Dore is entertaining, playing a conflicted man faced with curious advances from Candy, triggering thoughts of adultery as his simple night out with the boys devolves into lies and panic, calling his entire marriage into question.

The psychological underpinnings of “Stag” are largely inconsequential, lost to a movie that treats the act of men kissing as a punchline. Unexpectedly, this picture is no farce. In fact, it develops a certain gravity as the third act rolls around, which clashes with the goofball atmosphere Heard is toying with, but simply doesn’t have the ability to ignite. “Stag” goes sentimental without earning its sense of decency, as the screenwriting isn’t strong enough to create a bond of friendship between these hackneyed characters, while the jokes are stale and the wrong kind of juvenile. I suppose “Stag” has its heart in the right place, but it lacks zest and direction, playing it safe with a subject that all but demands utter screen chaos.

Starring: Donald Faison, Eva Amurri, Leah Renee
Director: Brett Heard

» See full cast & crew

Stag, Forum Discussions

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Stage Musicals on BD 26 Jan 15, 2009
Stag Night of the Dead 0 Sep 01, 2010

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