William H. Macy is a very good actor — a great actor, in fact — which is why we implore him right off the bat to keep his day job. Based on the new film The Layover, which he directed, it would be wisest for him to stay in front of the camera and not think about getting back behind it for a good, long time. A cut-rate entry in the female comedy field populated by films ranging in quality from Girls’ Trip at one end to Bride Wars at the other, The Layover is a toxic 88-minute bore that does its best to make its lead actors and its director come across as awful as possible.
Kate (Alexandra Daddario) and Meg (Kate Upton) are lifelong friends and roommates who are currently going through a bad patch: uptight Kate’s smarmy principal (Rob Corddry) wants her to quit her high school teaching job — for reasons not entirely clear — while ditzy, impulsive Meg’s attempt to sell skin care products made in North Korea to a high-end department store goes awry. With both of them at a low ebb, Meg does the only thing possible: she books them an impromptu trip to Fort Lauderdale using Kate’s frequent flyer miles and credit card.
No sooner are they seated in their aisle and window seats than a dreamy hunk named Ryan (Matt Barr), on his way to a wedding, plops down between them and unwittingly initiates a contest between the two to see who can be the flirtiest with him. It comes way easier to voluptuous, slightly slutty Meg than the more bookish yet still attractive Kate, but the battle nonetheless escalates when all three of them are stuck in a St. Louis layover as a hurricane batters Florida and keeps them from their destination.
Not that it was much better beforehand, but at this point The Layover turns into a shitfest, both literally and figuratively speaking. It only makes sense that two male writers (David Hornsby and Lance Krall, who both worked on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) would pen this, because the movie is completely tone-deaf and ignorant about women. It makes Meg and Kate into man-starved monsters, both ready to throw their friendship, other people’s lives and health, private property and even a complete stranger’s wedding under the bus all for the sake of hooking up with a hot guy.
As if that premise itself wasn’t bad enough, the movie deploys a series of standard-issue gross-outs and acts of petty cruelty, the lowest being a scene in which Meg locks Kate inside a gas station bathroom and leaves her to slip and slide around in the feces and piss that coat the floor and walls. It’s disgusting, it’s wildly unrealistic and it’s not funny in the slightest — just like the rest of the movie. As a director, Macy has no sense of timing or pacing; the jokes, such as they are, just fall flat or fade out or simply go nowhere. They’re neither outrageous nor original enough to raise even a smirk.
Upton is gorgeous but no actress; she says every line in the same whining/cajoling tone, with the character herself as one-note as her delivery. Daddario has proven herself a decent actress in other movies, but she is subjected to insult after insult here — both by her alleged friend and the script — and can only muster up some wounded charm. Barr is a blank — which makes the desperate way in which the two women throw themselves at him even more irritating — while Matt Jones is possibly the only one who emerges relatively unscathed as a fellow traveler who ends up driving our threesome to Florida and seems like the only half-real human being in the bunch (there’s also a short and typically sharp-tongued turn by Molly Shannon, but — perhaps fortunately for her — she exits quickly).
We’re not sure what Macy, Daddario, Upton or anyone saw in this trash, which has reportedly been sitting on a shelf for two years and is only now coming out mostly direct to video (with the usual “limited” theatrical run). It’s stupid, sexist, unpleasant and unfunny. It demeans its female leads by turning them into foul, screeching beasts for a large portion of its seems-too-long 88 minutes, and its male gaze is not just leering or clichéd, but downright hateful. Given the choice between watching this junk again or actually having to lay over in some shithole for a few hours, I know what I’d pick.
The Layover is out today (September 1) in “selected” theaters. Make another selection.