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Featured DVD Review: American Loser

September 25th, 2011

American Loser - Buy from Amazon

American Loser was filmed in 2007, had a premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival under the name Trainwreck: My Life as an Idoit and was at one time scheduled for a theatrical release in 2008 and again in 2009. That didn't happen. Now it is coming out direct-to-DVD four years after it was made. That's a bad sign, but there's always a chance the film was unfairly overlooked.

The Movie

Sean Williams Scott stars as Jeff, a man with problems. This is an understatement, as he has dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, balance problems, and more. At the beginning of the film, we meet him in an AA meeting where he talks about being clean and sober for ten years. He explains the day he decided to become sober, which started with a blown job interview and continued with him sinking his family yacht, before being mugged while trying to get home to his Mommy and his Step-Dad. Of course, telling people who are down on their luck that your family is rich enough to own a yacht is not the best way to gain sympathy, and after an outburst by one of the other members, he moves onto another support group.

In another support group, Jeff meets Lynn, a rich socialite with a phobia of relationships. She's engaged to a rich businessman, but only wants to get married for the money. Despite this obvious impediment, they start a relationship with each other. With her help, and the help of Lenny, another recovering alcoholic / support group junkie, Jeff tries to become a better person.

The film was renamed American Loser and I'm 95% sure this was to capitalize on Sean Williams Scott's previous work in the American Pie franchise. This will do the film a disservice, as fans of those movies will be disappointed if they go in expecting the same type of film. American Loser is a much more subdued film with Sean Williams Scott giving a performance that is wildly different from Stifler. It is also one of his best performances and he gets a lot out of the monologs.

There are a few flaws that keep the film from reaching its potential. Firstly, it's not very cinematic. A lot of the film takes place in one of the support groups with Jeff speaking right to the camera. This happens a lot, which leads us into the second issue I had with the movie. It's rather repetitive / episodic. Finally, Jeff is such a screw up and so delusional about the nature of his problems that it is hard to sympathize with him.

The Extras

The only extras are a 12-minute making of featurette and a photo gallery. Granted, this is not a lot, but it is more than many direct-to-DVD releases.

The Verdict

American Loser is based on the memoirs of Jeff Nichols, who turned his life into a stand-up comedy act. This film feels like a one man act turned into a film, more than a film, which is a bit of a problem. However, it is still worth checking out, but the DVD is more of a rental than a purchase.

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