The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



For a while, Sundown looks like it might be a solid teen comedy. It takes some familiar elements and executes them with energy and a self-knowing wink. You settle in and start to have some fun. Then the second half kicks in and you realize it's trying to be a Mexican The Hangover. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a Mexican The Hangover Part III. Very quickly, the things that held promise fall by the wayside.

Logan (Devon Werkheiser) is a high school senior who perpetually disappoints his parents (Teri Hatcher and John Michael Higgins) with irresponsible behavior. His problem is that he's too susceptible to the suggestions of his stereotypically horny best friend, Blake (Sean Marquette). When the parents go out of town for a week, Logan gets talked into sneaking down to Puerto Vallarta, where his crush, Lina (Sara Paxton), is going for spring break. Once there, he loses the expensive Rolex watch his father entrusted him to take to the jeweler. With the help of Blake, a local cab driver, and a prostitute named Gaby (Camilla Belle), he attempts to get the watch back from the gangster who has taken it.

Early scenes of Sundown call to mind Risky Business. Both have adolescent protagonists who start off looking for some relatively innocent fun, only to find themselves in way over their heads, in situations they're too young and immature to manage. There's nothing earthshaking about watching Logan freak out about the watch or make his way around a foreign country without money, but it works, thanks to a light tone and a solid performance from Devon Werkheiser. Sundown also has the concept of making Logan a wannabe EDM musician. Many of the scenes are set to this particular style of music, with some real-life musicians (Steve Aoki, Paul Oakenfold) doing cameos as themselves. This approach, coupled with director Fernando Lebrija's fast-and-furious style, gives Sundown a nice pulse. It's not deep, but it's certainly peppy.

The material with Logan and Blake getting to Mexico and engaging in some shenanigans is entertaining, but after a while, the plot evolves into something quite different than it starts off as. The teen comedy aspect recedes into the background, replaced by a pursuit of the watch that leads to an ever-increasing series of outlandish (and unfunny) catastrophes. Things become broader, Hangover-style, and the movie's most appealing elements are replaced by elements that are far less appealing, including a whole subplot about how the gangster forces Gaby to work as a hooker. Sundown is effective as the story of a kid who is too easily influenced by his friend and who makes a very stupid mistake in pursuit of a girl. It is not effective when it turns violent or starts including an abundance of homophobic and transphobic humor. The movie develops a nasty streak, and that sucks all the joy from it.

Sundown winds to an absurd conclusion that oddly negates everything the story has told us was important. That ensures it ends on a deeply unsatisfying note. This could have been a perfectly enjoyable little teen comedy. It doesn't stay on that path, though, and once it veers from its initial setup, the film quickly goes downhill.

( out of four)

Sundown is rated R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout, some drug use, and for teen partying. The running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes.

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