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Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Penguin Monday: #27. Triple Dog (2010)

Ah, the high school sleepover!  Is there anything more fun?  I can actually think of several things right off the dome that are immensely more fun--like sleeping in my own bed at home for instance--but back in those heady, carefree days of high school, sleepovers were the best.  You and a couple of friends staying up late, eating pizza, watching horror movies, braiding each other’s hair, trading period stories, sharing stock market tips, eating ice cream, summoning demons through the use of a Ouija board, making prank phone calls, talking about which boys you thought were cute, practice kissing each other while wearing the laciest of panties and an ill-fitting brassiere through which your erect nipples were clearly visible, telling ghost stories: sleepovers were the greatest!
I’ve heard stories, but nothing crazy ever happened at any of my sleepovers.  There was the time my friend fell asleep on the couch watching Beavis and Butthead, and then woke me up at three in the morning to apologize for falling asleep, asked if he could climb into bed with me so we could “talk until we both fall asleep,” proceeded to fall asleep almost instantly and hogged both the bed and the covers.  There was also that time me and four friends stayed up all night watching David Lynch movies, taking occasional bathroom and internet porn breaks.  Nobody ever got a penis drawn in Sharpie on his forehead or peed his sleeping bag after having his fingers delicately placed in a cup of warm water or woke up to find a supernatural goalie-masked killer brandishing a blood-soaked machete mere inches from his face.  We just ate pizza, drank soda, watched movies, talked about boobs and fell asleep on whatever furniture was closest.  I’m not a female—I bet you couldn’t tell from my perfect description of girl sleepovers in the previous paragraph, right?—so I don’t know what went down at one of those, but I suspect it pretty much the same, right down to the boob talk.  I think sleepover culture is pretty standard across the board.  Tell me if I’m wrong.

Triple Dog, a sub-Lifetime, non-thriller from Canda--the country from which roughly 85% of Netflix’s content hails--tells the story of a sleepover gone “wild.”  I mean, I think we’re supposed to find the proceedings “wild" and perhaps a tad "distressing.”  “This is what teenage girls are really up to, man,” the filmmakers seem to be saying.  “I’m serious.  This is totally what they do when you aren’t looking!  Isn’t it crazy?!?”  Only nothing that happens is really that crazy. Granted, a girl does make a convenience store microwave explode, but those things explode all the time.  Convenience store microwave are notorious exploders.  Google it.
Six girls on varying rungs of the social ladder, but all unapologetically white and upper middle class, gather for a birthday slumber party at Eve’s house, one of which, Chapin (because that’s a name), is the town bad girl.  It is suggested that Chapin is responsible for the drowning death of a student at a nearby Catholic school, a case Eve, I guess, is super interested in getting to the bottom of at random times throughout the movie, but mostly doesn’t care about until the end and in the various flashbacks that pepper the film for no real reason.  The flashbacks don’t create any real tension or add anything to the plot. It’s a pretty straightforward story that doesn’t need to be interrupted periodically with flashbacks to the week leading up to Eve’s slumber party, because the characters only seem vaguely aware that there was a week leading up to anything or that there will be future weeks ahead.  

So, we've got Eve, the birthday girl; Chapin, the female, non-animated equivalent of Bart Simpson; Liza, AKA “Rat Girl,” nicknamed thus because she has a rat on her at all times; Cicely, the vaguely ethnic one who is confused as to why her classmates aren’t as sexually attracted to their principal, Mr. Scalco, as she is; Sarah, the Christian; and Nina, a girl.  

Chapin, being the radical, bad-ass skateboarder that she is, declares Eve’s party lame, and suggests they play a game of Triple Dog, Truth-or-Dare without the “Truth” and with two times the head-shaving.  In Triple Dog, everybody gets a dare and gives a dare.  If you don’t complete the dare given, you have to shave your head. You can challenge the dare-giver to do the dare herself, and if the dare-giver complies and completes said dare, the dare-avoider must have her head shaved.

Eat my shorts!

I guess the best way to proceed is to describe the dares.  I could conduct a deep exploration into feminism or discuss what the slumber party represents in contemporary film study or describe the flashbacks in painstaking detail or the flashbacks within the flashbacks—one of which involves a crappy CGI butterfly—but I’ll just surge ahead to the nudity.
Sarah picks Liza to give her a dare.  Before I reveal the dare, keep in mind that Liza has little to no reason to be at this party.  First, she and Chapin hate each other because Liza strongly believes that Chapin is a murderer and has no qualms about sharing this information with anybody who asks.  Second, Sarah, Nina and Cicely—this film’s answer to the trio featured in the film Mean Girls—don’t really know or particularly like Liza.  Third, the only time Eve and Liza have ever spoken to each other, seemingly, is two days earlier in the frozen food section of the grocery store, where Liza starts screaming about how Chapin murdered a girl or something.  Also, she doesn’t want to play the game and doesn’t appear all that thrilled about parties in general, with her surly attitude and perma-grimace.  So what does she dare sweet, god-fearing Sarah to do?  Rat Girl dares Sarah to streak.  And the smile she has when she says it is a mile wide.  So, Sarah slow motion jogs down the street naked to the delight of her friends and passersby.  I feel like we’re supposed to think the streak dare is sinister foreshadowing of worse debauchery to come, but it seems more lame than anything else. 
In fact, Triple Dog never lives up to the sinister promise of its premise.  Or its trailer.  The dares are fairly standard—I’ll get to them, don’t’ worry!—and the film’s ending—I’ll spoil it, don’t worry!—isn’t anything to get particularly disturbed about.  I don’t know if Triple Dog was intended to be one of those "parent-frightening eye-openers" that were popular for a time, but if it was, it failed spectacularly.  The flashbacks try so hard to establish a mood that the movie simply can’t sustain.

You can't tell from the picture, but this scene is super racist.

Here are the other dares:
--Chapin dares Rat Girl to hide in Eve’s brother’s closet until midnight.  Liza ends up bonding with Eve’s brother over Rock Band and it is implied that they “do it.”
--Someone dares Nina to perform karaoke/pretend to have a seizure at Big Wong’s, a karaoke bar managed by an Asian stereotype whose cringeworthy performance is so painfully racist and unfunny, it makes a roughly five minute scene feel like an eternity.
--Cicely is dared to take a piss on Principal Scalco’s front porch.
--Chapin is dared to steal a porno from a convenience store.
--Eve is dared to go to “third base” with a boy named Whisper.  Yep.  Whisper.
About Chapin’s dare: This is the scene with the bean bomb/exploding microwave.  While the store’s clerk and security card work in tandem to douse the microwave fire, Chapin dashes behind the counter, grabs a Penthouse, and escapes in true Bart Simpson style, skateboarding into the night while making wisecracks (I think she calls the bumbling, obese security guard “tubby” or something).  When her friends pick her up in Cicely’s SUV a couple of minutes later, her backpack is FILLED TO THE BRIM with other stuff she stole.  WHAT?!  How is that even possible?  We don’t see her steal anything else.  Before the beans explode, the security guard is following her movements pretty closely.  There's not way she was able to grab a "gag gift" for everyone in the car.  It’s dumb.

Don't have a cow, man!

The girls crash another party in the neighborhood, meet up with Whisper, who stops Eve from, uh, using her mouth on him in a sexual fashion, as he is more interested in Chapin.  Chapin freaks out because, apparently, her sanity is linked to Triple Dog, and watching the game fall apart in front of her, sends Chapin into a tailspin that results in her jumping off of a bridge.  The same bridge she dared the dead girl to jump off of in a past game of Triple Dog.  Ooooooo!  The truth is revealed and it’s dumb!  Chapin doesn’t die though—she ain’t no punk—she just pulls herself onto the shore, finds her friends and the all run from the cops while “Yakety Sax” plays on the soundtrack (not really).
And that’s the movie.  Seriously, that’s it.  Everybody is suddenly friends, everything is right in the world and nobody cares about the stupid dead girl anymore, you know, except for the family of the dead girl.  Their world is probably still pretty damn awful.  I bet there are days when her mother doesn’t even want to get out of bed.  And her dad, well, his only comfort is found at the bottom of a bottle.  Sure, he had 15 years of sobriety under his belt, but what is he gonna do?  His little princess is dead.  At least Chapin’s OK.

I triple dog dare you to watch Triple Dog.  If I were you, I'd just go ahead and shave my head now.

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