What movie was that...?

27 August 2009


directed by Justen Naughton

Screwing, boozing and saving lives. Aren’t these the things that really matter? Fuckin’ A. For the characters in Justen Naughton’s RIFFRAFF, one summer lifeguarding Chicago’s beaches is a chance to mature, find love, learn about true friendship and, of course, to have one helluva 3 month party.
To describe RIFFRAFF without drawing comparisons to its raunchy, irreverent and shitfaced comedic predecessors would be like reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof without mentioning White Lightning, Vanishing Point, Two-Lane Blacktop or even Robert Mitchum’s classic Thunder Road. In true retro-comedic fashion, Naughton’s script distills colorful crudity and lively vulgarity into a moonshine that warms the heart and kills a few brains cells. Add a Belushi to the mix (okay, enough with the Animal House comparisons), and you have most of the fixins necessary to cook up a worthy addition to the canon.
Okay, synopsis time. Hughie “Hi-tops” (Ben Wells) is a near virgin who finds himself rooming with May (Chryssie Whitehead), the seasoned ex of his man slut best friend and roommate, Otis (Robert Belushi), all of whom work at the same stretch of beaches. Talk about work and play together. Hi-tops develops a thing for May and reluctant virgin Maggie, his old next door neighbor, but not before hitting on his cousin. Yeesh. Otis has plans of his own concerning Maggie, but his checkered sexual past proves to be a greater hurdle than he anticipated.
Ultimately, RIFFRAFF strives to uphold the mantle set forth by the greats of a bygone era, and sometimes it comes close, and sometimes it stumbles. Amid superfluous and tangential side stories (Bedanski, Rasso, I’m looking at yous guys), you catch a glimmer of a heart in the mash up of unabashed vulgarity and sentimentality.

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