Ass Backwards is a slog of one perplexing, humorless scene after another
Sometimes a film can be so bad its existence is baffling. Ass Backwards, a comedy co-written by stars June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson, is a perfect example of that kind of movie. With a script so painfully unfunny it’s hard to imagine that Raphael and Wilson (who got some of their funding for the film through Kickstarter) never had anyone tell them they were working with absolute dreck. Part road movie and part pageant send-up, Ass Backwards is a slog of one perplexing, humorless scene after another.
Kate (Raphael) and Chloe (Wilson) are childhood friends living together in New York City. Chloe works as a dancer at a nightclub, while Kate sells her eggs to couples on Craigslist. A series of flashbacks reveal the origin of their friendship: they both came in dead last at a child pageant after Kate bombed the Q&A portion and Chloe screamed her way through “Stand By Your Man.” They receive an invite from the pageant to come back and compete for the contest’s 50th anniversary, and with nowhere else to go (it doesn’t take long for them to get evicted from their apartment) they set off on a road trip to try and win the crown again.
Like most road trip movies, things begin to go sour. After driving in the wrong direction for hours, the two end up visiting Chloe’s father (Vincent D’Onofrio, one of the many wasted cameos in the film). This scene, where the main joke is how D’Onofrio is in a financial situation just as bad as Kate & Chloe, falls so flat the thud is deafening. Things only go downhill from there when they detour to a feminist camp. The camp, filled with old women who look more like a biker gang, is so ignorant and regressive it feels straight out of a bad 80s film. It only gets worse later on when Kate, suggesting a way the woman’s group can bring in more members, ends up describing slavery. In case viewers don’t get the joke, the camera helpfully cuts to the only black member’s horrified face several times during the whole thing.
Raphael and Wilson write their characters as complete nitwits, but it’s hard to laugh at Kate and Chloe’s stupidity when the writing is on par with their intelligence. Large chunks of the film go by where it feels like no jokes were written, and the ones that do appear could have been written by grade-schoolers. The film’s big repeated gag, where Kate and Chloe bare their asses and urinate in public, would only be raunchy to 10 year olds (unfortunately the film’s R rating will mean its target audience will miss out).
The pageant itself brings one of the film’s only funny moments (thanks to a cameo by Bob Odenkirk), but other than that the laughs are nonexistent. Raphael and Wilson have shown themselves to be excellent comedic actresses through their respective work on Burning Love, NTSF:SD:SUV:: and Saturday Night Live. Sadly their comedic writing skills aren’t as strong (their other major writing credit is Bride Wars). From now on it might be best if both of them stick to working with other people’s material.