2012 Twin Cities Film Fest: Stag Review

In the aftermath of The Hangover (and its carbon copy sequel) comes Stag, a slacker buddy comedy starring ScrubsDonald Faison and a bunch of look look-alike actors that sort of resemble Sean Penn, Dane Cook and even slightly Ryan Reynolds. Stag isn’t especially funny or clever, but it’s briefly charming and mostly harmless. Faison’s name may be the highlight, but it’s virtually every other actor in the film that makes it worth the viewing, even if you’ll spend most of the running time swearing you’ve seen all of these actors in other films, when you probably haven’t.

Ken (Donald Faison) is the group trickster. He’s notorious for setting up some of the best stags for his friends and now it’s his turn to feel the pain. He’s getting married and his buddies have organized a little shindig to celebrate and to finally pay him back for all of the elaborate pranks he’s pulled on his buddies over the years.

Stag is essentially The Hangover played out on a much smaller scale, but still backed by the stereotype gang of pals that most of these buddy comedies are plagued with. There’s the annoying one of the group that plots and schemes, played by Donald Faison and then there’s the fat one, the misunderstood one, the calm and collected one and then the possibly gay one? Stag embraces these previously established stereotypes and quickly moves onto the good stuff, which in this case is a familiar comedy that mostly follows formula.

That’s honestly the worst thing you can say about Stag. Everything else is sort of enjoyable. I’m not quite sure why, but most of the acting on display is just too relaxed to really get worked up about. Donald Faison channels his usual brand of dickish humor, but everyone else treats their roles much like the film’s story, which is a laid back party between friends.

Stag occasionally tries to be more than it really is, by inserting a gay subplot that’s goofy, but funny and helps bring in some of the third act jokes. There’s also a bit with a stripper/blogger that is almost pointless, but again, it’s funny enough to be included, just not all that important.

And that’s where the film’s problems come into play. Stag is almost completely unoriginal as far as story goes. You’ve seen every scenario played out before and yet against all of these odds the film finds enough material to fill up the entire running time. It’s almost like the familiarity is what gives the film its appeal.

It has enough comedy to carry itself without much of a struggle and because of that it works as a passable comedy, just not a very good one. I couldn’t find anything in the film that I generally hated or disliked, but at the same time there’s absolutely nothing memorable about it. Stag exists mildly as a simpler and more channeled version of The Hangover. The jokes are actually slightly better than anything Todd Phillips could come up with for his Hangover films, but that’s not saying too much.

Stag – 6.5/10

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