Max Landis's Me Him Her is a brotastic comedy about two huge dicks: the 6-foot-tall penis that stalks lesbian Gabbi's nightmares, and the human male who triggered it.
Said jerk Cory (Dustin Milligan) is a motormouth loser from Florida who's visiting his childhood pal Brendan (Luke Bracey) in Los Angeles. Brendan's paying for the trip — he can afford it, thanks to his lead role on a TV cop show. The handsome, blond star needs backup: His parents (Scott Bakula and Geena Davis) are in town, his new season is premiering, and his publicists are panicking about the next stage of his career. Perfect timing for Brendan to announce that he's gay. (Or, at least, this retro-prudish version of gay, where a good-looking grown man in Hollywood only had his first kiss last week.)
Alas, Cory is a bad BFF. The film has barely started when he ditches Brendan for drunk and angry Gabbi (Emily Meade), freshly dumped by her demonic girlfriend (Angela Sarafyan), and the two wind up having sex in her car. Cue his obsession, her panic, that giant penis phantasm, and our confusion that we're supposed to root for this biologically mismatched couple to fall in love.
The brash-to-the-bone Me Him Her seems aware it'll lose sensible viewers with its hetero-dude-sways-lesbian-woman romance. It's a comedy about homosexuality for super-straight people, like a jock sashaying in a feather boa for laughs — which Cory literally does to fit in at a gay pride parade. The film attempts to erase boundaries and grapple with the blurred sexuality of two maniacs drawn together like magnets. (Or, as Cory stutters, "My face is being pulled toward your face right now with invisible wires. Do you feel that?") Attraction is complicated, and I admire any film that dares to question the labels that increasingly define our lives. But scene-to-scene, Me Him Her loses as many points as it scores. Especially when Brendan visits his first gay club: The sitcom tone shifts into a horror film, with strangers in the bathroom drooling over his man-flesh like zombies.
Tellingly, the "Him" and "Her" of the title are played sincerely by Bracey and Meade as though the actors truly care about their gay characters' inner lives. They're in a drama with real consequences for his fame and her self-identity. And both actors have magnificent moments. Bracey has a shape-shifting charisma that he turns off when Brendan pals around with his buddies and visibly turns on when walking down a red carpet. His eyes burn, his jaw squares, and suddenly, you see a movie star emerge from this generically handsome hunk.
Meade has a more memorable face. She looks like the world's most beautiful chipmunk, electric and twitchy with a heavy pout. In her best scene — and, possibly, the movie's — she refuses to take Cory's phone number. So he screams his digits in her face to make her learn it anyway, and she screams right back until she finally breaks. They holler through the whole exchange — Area code? How do you spell your last name? — and when the moment is over, she shoots him a quick, mean middle finger and bolts.
At its best, Me Him Her has that prickly urgency. Yet Cory, the "Me" whose selfish perspective drives the plot, screams and mugs like he's in a Saturday Night Live skit. To him, whatever happens is hilarious. And the more the movie thinks his dopey frat antics are funny, the less they actually are.
Writer/director Max Landis, who wrote Chronicle, Victor Frankenstein, and the criminally underrated American Ultra, is known for his loudmouthed irreverence, both in his dialogue and his Twitter account. Banter is his strength — he's a millennial Woody Allen, controversy included. So it's striking to see him here, as a first-time director, also strive to establish his own Tumblr-fied visual style: a shot of Cory and Gabbi on a bed swirling in space, a gorgeous L.A. nightscape with a surreal, Instagram glow, and inner dialogue that pops up next to people's faces like memes. Allen did that, too, but Landis might type nothing more insightful than "Mm." Yet as mental punctuation, it kinda works.
Me Him Her is crowded with fast gags: a portentous stuffed Rasta banana, a quick glimpse of a sci-fi diamond-shaped cell phone that doesn't exist on earth, a cameo from Haley Joel Osment as a crazy, cat-obsessed version of himself. You sense that Landis's brain is a cage full of rabid ideas. Rather than tame them, he's happy to open the gate and let the monsters loose. It's like he's worried that if he doesn't say everything he wants to say now, he'll never get another chance. Which is odd, as Landis has the energy — and, as a Hollywood son, the connections and cash — to make movies for decades.
I want to see all of them. I predict he'll make something great. He wants to, and he knows he can. His ego is refreshing. Like Me Him Her teaches, swagger can't solve everything. But boy, does it help.