Honestly, when I first watched the trailer for Desperados I was pretty sure this was not a movie for me. I mean, a woman so desperate to retract an email that she drunkenly sent her boyfriend while he was MIA for five days that she drags her two best friends to Mexico to break into his hotel room and erase it before he is released from the hospital and reads it? Even I have some standards. Okay, that’s not actually true because seeing the plot in print it totally sounds like something I would watch, but the trailer didn’t inspire much confidence in the actual execution. But, in a tale as old as streaming, one afternoon I wanted something fluffy and comfortable, and I thought to myself, How bad can it be? The answer, it turns out, is that it is both better and worse than I expected, which is, I guess, an impressive feat? So, yay for that?
We meet Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) as she is epically screwing up an interview to be a guidance counselor at a Catholic School in Echo Park, Los Angeles. She seems to have the job in the bag until she starts telling the nun interviewing her about how abstinence education is for the birds and masturbation is for everyone. She’s not wrong on either count, but she should probably know her audience, which is basically what her friends Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns) tell her later when she’s complaining to them about another failed job interview. Then Wesley moans some about how she thought by the time she was thirty she’d have a husband, kids, and a career and how her ovaries are going to “rust and grow barnacles.” Really?!? I feel like we’ve time warped back two decades (or more) when women weren’t starting families in their late thirties or forties. Also, once again, Wesley should know her audience because Brooke’s husband has recently cheated on her and Kaylie is struggling with infertility. Brooke also has a baby who shows up for about three seconds and then is never mentioned again. Maybe she just rented him for the afternoon? I don’t know. It seems like something that would be possible in Los Angeles. It’s very mysterious. Kaylie has a cat who is absolutely key to the ending of the movie, but just feels very awkwardly wedged into this part.
Anyway, we see more of how Wesley doesn’t have a job and how she’s stealing food from the kid she babysits for and how her mom is constantly calling to check on her. Then Wesley finds out her ex-boyfriend, who said he wasn’t the marrying kind, is engaged and appears in a multi-page spread in some bridal magazine. Angry and desperate, she calls up Sean (Lamorne Morris), the guy Kaylie’s husband has been trying to fix her up with, and asks him on a date. How romantic! Everybody wants to be somebody’s “I feel like all my friends and exes are leaving me behind” date. The date goes…well it doesn’t really go at all because after about three minutes Sean bails.
Now even more upset, Wesley leaves the restaurant, trips on a hole in the sidewalk, and conks her head hard enough to pass out. When she wakes up, she finds herself staring into the blandly handsome enough-ish face of a sports agent named Jared (Robbie Amell), which she finds very exciting. (I spent far too much time trying to figure out why he looked so familiar before realizing he was in Upload and that I said similar things about his face in that review.)
She goes with Jared back to his place, probably because she has a slight concussion and therefore isn’t concerned that he looks like someone who could also easily play a serial killer. He makes boring jokes about how he hardly ever kills anyone and tells her how he loves that her brain isn’t really working. This leads Wesley to the brilliant observation that she should pretend to be totally chill and not be herself. (To be clear, this is not a brilliant observation. Don’t do this. Jared clearly sucks.) They start to date and she pretends to like all the things he does and hate all the things he hates. (To their credit, her friends tell her this is a horrible idea.) For the record, he hates foods with fat and loves bubble soccer. He tells her that she may be the perfect girl. The perfect girl. The perfect GIRL. Can I tell you how much it makes my skin crawl when people call grown-ass women girls? Has any adult woman ever looked at a man who has orbited around the sun thirty whole ass times and said, “I think you might be the perfect boy?” I don’t know, but I hope not because it’s equally fucking creepy. But either way, stop trying to blur the line between girls and women. It’s gross.
But I digress. Eventually Wesley and Jared have sex and then he POOF! disappears for five days. No texts. No phone calls. No emails. Wesley is, understandably, kind of pissed off, so she invites Kaylie and Brooke over and they all get veeeery drunk and co-write him a very nasty and barely coherent email. Just as the email is being sent, Jared calls to let her know that he was in an accident and has been unconscious in a Mexican hospital without access to his phone or computer. She pretends like she doesn’t care and he (again) calls her a girl. I have just so, SO many questions. Why didn’t he call her to let her know he was headed to Mexico? How does he have her phone number and not his phone? Why does he think it’s cool to be dating someone who doesn’t care that he disappeared off the face of the earth for five days? Why does he insist on calling her a girl?
Wesley decides the only solution is to rope her friends into accompanying her to Mexico to delete the email before he sees it. They get to the resort, where they discover two things: 1. Wesley has no real plan to find his room, so we will be subjected to many drawn out unfunny thwarted scenarios posing as funny hijinks and 2. Sean is on vacation at the same resort, and they continue to have not unpleasant banter. Obviously, you know more or less where the story is going from here, but great jiggling jellyfish is it going to take its sweet time getting there. I am not exaggerating when I say that, at one point, I thought half the movie had passed when it had only been ten minutes.
I can’t remember which part it was when time ceased to have any meaning, but here are few possible contenders. There is a whole thing about how, upon arriving at the resort, Wesley’s vibrator falls out of her bag and a young boy picks it up. Why she’s got her vibrator just bouncing around in her purse with her loose change, crumpled receipts, and crumbs is never addressed.
This scenario leads to an ongoing thing about the boy coming on to Wesley and the boy’s mother calling her things like a “whorebag” and going on about how long she was in labor with the kid and how she had an 18 inch episiotomy (which is not how anatomy works) and calling Wesley a pedophile. There is so much wrong going on here that I’m at a loss of how to even begin to address it. Except to say that it’s always gross and unnecessary and unfunny to sexualize kids or use pedophilia as a joke. The three women are forced to leave the resort and are terrorized by the fact that they have to stay at what appears to be a perfectly clean, but budget hotel. If they’re so bothered by it I don’t understand why they don’t go to another resort. They’re in Cabo San Lucas for fuck’s sake. It’s not like there is only one nice place to stay. There is a too-long scene with Wesley getting repeatedly electrocuted by a security fence. Wesley gets sent to jail, which is repeatedly referred to as Mexican Jail. I don’t know what other kind of jail they would expect to find in the country of Mexico, but it feels verging on xenophobic because I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to be thrown in any country’s jail. There’s a whole thing with Heather Graham as a shaman called Ángel de la Paz, and, honestly, the idea of a blonde American woman appropriating several cultures and colonizing another country’s land so she can overcharge desperate people in exchange for peddling bullshit advice feels like the most realistic part of this entire 105 minute (I swear it was longer) adventure in questionable choices.
And finally, and yes I did purposefully save this for last, there was the part where Wesley gets smacked in the face by a dolphin penis. I’m sorry—do you need a minute to recover from that? Take your time. I don’t know what else to say because I kind of went into a fugue state thinking about all the poor decisions and bad advice that led to that scene making it into the final version of the movie.
At this point you may be wondering: Well, what was better about this movie than you expected?!? Which, fair enough! I’m kind of wondering that as well. Look, there is a message in the movie, somewhat hidden in the morass of incredibly bad gags, that you should surround yourself with people who love your flaws and your complications, and that you should value those people above boring guys named Jared. And that there is no need to tie yourself in knots or get all worked up because your life doesn’t look like you imagined it would. You know, grow where you’re planted and all that jazz. Also, there is a message about finding a person who you can laugh with and share jokes with. Lamorne Morris and Nasim Pedrad, who played a couple on New Girl, are pretty funny together. They have good chemistry and the scenes with just the two of them cracking jokes, flirting, and talking are mostly amusing and sweet. A goat makes a cameo! And friendly goat cameos are always welcome. And, I guess that’s really it. The goat and I talked and we agree that you should watch at your own risk.