What if there was a Purge but instead of murder being outlawed, it was drugs and alcohol. That is the premise for Hulu’s latest R-rated comedy “The Binge” released on Aug. 28. The story follows three boys, Griffin (Skylar Gisondo, "Vacation" and "The Righteous Gemstones"), Hags (Dexter Darden, “The Maze Runner” trilogy) and Andrew (Eduardo Franco, “Booksmart” and “American Vandal”) as three friends on their first “Binge” night. In their night of achieving different teen goals they end up crossing paths for better or worse with their principal played by Vince Vaughn. What we’re given here is a very funny film from start to finish in its 98-minute runtime.
What I want to stress about “The Binge” is that it is a film that consists of having a steady stream of continuous humor. Gisendo, Darden and Franco have a very funny comradery with one other which makes the film move at an incredibly brisk pace. Like many R-rated teen comedies ("Superbad," “American Pie,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) there is a consistency of jokes. Some of those jokes hit more than others, but where the comedy really thrives is the supporting performance of Vaughn. Full disclosure, Vince Vaughn is an actor that I have always responded positively to via his style of humor. Here, what director Jeremy Garelick (“The Wedding Ringer”) does so well is emphasize the dry wit Vaughn has as a performer that makes his role so memorable. Garelick for the most part does the same with the younger cast which makes more jokes land than others.
The thing about a movie like this that keeps me from being overly enthusiastic about it is how it is not necessarily memorable. Throughout the film’s runtime, the jokes are very funny and there are even a few very creative choices in filmmaking. My largest laughs came in the form of a very raunchy musical number and the finale that had me in tears. With something as funny as these sequences, the rest of the humor relies on the anxiety of young teen romance and finding your own identity. That is a typical, but hilarious idea that teen comedies flirt with and was more of a refreshing idea than it is now. Normally I would be more forgiving of this sort of film ideology, but I feel as if I cannot due to the sharp wit and satire of the musical sequence. It is as if all talent involved was able to push the film past the point of its predecessors who do the same thing.
Much like I mentioned at the beginning, I would be lying to you if I said I did not laugh from the get-go of “The Binge." It is a film that thrives on breaking the mold established by its teen comedy movie predecessors. The cast is consistently hilarious but the boundaries felt like they were not pushed in a way intended. There are ideas that flirt with a sharper film, but it never quite pushes in a very successful way. For what it sets out to do, I do not believe “The Binge” even approaches the heights of the classic comedies I mentioned earlier. Though if you are scrolling through Hulu and want to turn your brain off, you cannot really go wrong.
Watch the trailer here.