There is a long line of movies full of former Saturday Night Live cast members that served as launching pads for something greater. It spans generations and decades. It's given us such gems as Belushi and Murray, Sandler and Farley, to name but four.
There also is a long line of movies full of former Saturday Night Live cast members that are best forgotten. I'd list them here, but I've forgotten them.
The Netflix film Desperados falls into the latter category, on the whole. But that's not to say it's without its moments.
The bottom line: There's nothing here you haven't seen in movies like Girls Trip or Road Trip or other "How much worse can it get?" movies. It's funny at times, but those times don't make for particularly great watch.
Fun fact: There are something like 72 films with some permutation of the title Desperado . The best, of course, is 1995's Desperado starring Antonio Banderas. (If you just read his name with a bad Spanish accent, good for you.) There are others, of course, that feature some sort of desperate person in some sort of desperate situation.
Netflix's version in 2020 barely lives up to its not-actually-Spanish name.
The film opens with Wesley (Nasim Pedrad, who was on SNL from 2009 to 2014) extolling the virtues of masturbation to a nun. At a Catholic school. During a job interview. "I love to masturbate," she says. "I still do."
It's going to that kind of "edgy" movie.
We then meet Wesley's friends Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns) and Kaylie's cat, Kevin, who looks like Hitler. (Because, remember, this is an "edgy" movie from the jump, and nothing is more edgy than random Hitler references.) Brooke's husband cheated on her and she's just kind of making things work in the meantime. Kaylie is having a hard time getting pregnant. And Wes can't get a job. (Just in case the Catholic school convo didn't convey that.)
All of this begs the question: How the hell is Anna Camp still not a bigger star?
Anyway. This extremely white-looking bunch (yes, Pedrad is Iranian, but still) has issues. The biggest, apparently, is that Wesley also is dead in the dating department. And getting a phone call from an ex of 6 months who suddenly has gotten engaged and has a "small" feature in a wedding magazine isn't helping things any.
Kaylie's husband, Tad (Scott Rodgers), has been trying to set Wesley up with his friend Sean (Lamorne Morris). They finally meet up on a blind date at a bar. Neither one is particularly into going through the motions, and they agree that it's cool if either one of them wants to just shut things down. "I always feel like on a blind date you should have an automatic out," Wes says over the phone. "You so up, say Hi. No chemistry? Just say 'No. Over.' "
Seems simple enough. But we also know full well that these two are being set up for something more.
But this setup also is a setup for Wesley meeting Jared ( Upload's Robbie Amell), who comes to her aid after she trips on her way out of the bar after Sean uses his automatic out surprisingly fast. Wesley hits her head and agrees to go to Jared's nearby apartment for some first aid and in no way rang any sort of alarm bells with anyone except for the large bearded dude who was helping before Jared swooped in. He's amazed that she's falling for this smaller, better-looking guy and his lines. Hell, Jared jokes about Wes going to his place — "I honestly barely ever kill people." It's funny till it's true.
Jared and Wesley hit it off, even if she's maybe trying a little too hard to make it work. But that makes it all the more frustrating when he ghosts her.
Only one thing to do, then. Get sloshed with Kaylie and Brooke and fire off a hurtful, drunken email. Of course as soon as they do that Jared calls from someone else's phone, saying he's in Mexico for work and got hurt and is in the hospital and that's why he hadn't called or responded in days.
A rational person at this point would have just come clean. "Hey, that's crazy because I just sent you this horrible, awful email because I hadn't heard from you and just do me a favor and don't read it." Problem solved? Maybe. Or maybe not. But for sure that's a better idea than "Hey, let's me and the girls go down to the Mexican resort Jared is at and break into his casita and somehow get into his computer and phone and delete the email before he ever sees it."
That's where the movie completely lost me.
In what world does someone have a computer that's not locked with a password? From this point forward it's all based on a ridiculous, horrible idea that anyone with any ounce of sense would have shut down immediately. Brooke and and Kaylie should have said "No, we're not taking your broke ass to a Mexican resort on a foolish mission. And you don't know the password to his computer anyway."
On the other hand, it's a good thing that they all want down to this resort because — wait for it — Sean is there. (Of course he is.) And he's more than willing to let himself be sucked into Wesley's scheme. More than once.
And wouldn't you know it, but in that process he learns that actually he's got feelings for Wes. And she does for him, too. (It just took her a little while to realize it.) And maybe Jared isn't the right guy for her after all.
And they all lived happily ever after.
None of this is surprising. It's all telegraphed from the beginning, and it's stitched together with jokes that almost certainly worked in the writers' room, mostly work on screen, but don't do too much to make this movie any more watchable.
The only actually "shocking" - if not almost completely random - part is the scene were meditation guru Angel de la Paz starts making out with Brooke before very quickly moving on down to third base. It's almost as if Heather Graham owed someone a favor or something, because she's very quickly doing the big favor for Anna Camp, and not in a way that serves the plot in any way, shape or form other than to make Brooke to decide to leave her husband. It's 2020, tossing random lesbian sex scenes in your film isn't edgy, it's just transparent.
There's that, and the arc with Wesley and the young Nolan (Toby Grey). Sex toys occasionally do accidentally end up in the hands of children (though not usually in the lobby of a resort), and children can indeed become enamored with adults. But whereas Animal House was able to tell that joke in a mere 5 seconds , Desperados dragged it out across multiple scenes and multiple gags (figuratively, fortunately) to the point where it almost was uncomfortable.
That in and of itself perhaps describes Desperados best of all. It's another Netflix movie that's found itself with a placement high in the Netflix Top 10 — but it tried way too hard to get there.
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