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  • Katie Bell

Desperados (2020)

Ugh. Before I get started, I really need to clear something up... Do adults actually find dolphin penises funny? Or, more specifically, do adults find it to be humorous when a 30-year-old woman is hit in the face with a dolphin penis? If the majority vote yes, I may lose all faith in humanity...

Desperados follows the escapades of Wesley (Nasim Pedrad), an unemployed guidance counsellor, who's not only looking for a job, but also a man. I will say this, I love that our protagonist's name is Wesley...and that's pretty much where the positives stop. The film opens on a job interview at a Catholic school. Wesley quickly sabotages any hopes for employment, by thoroughly disappointing the nun who is administering the interview. (Hot tip: don't say "f*ck" in a job interview. Hotter tip: Don't say it twice. Hottest tip: Don't discuss masturbation and the masturbation advice you'd give to teenagers upon receipt of employment). At the conclusion of the scene, I could only think of two possible reasons for Wesley to have engaged in such an exchange:

  1. Wesley doesn't actually want a job.

  2. Wesley is an idiot.

I believe that it is likely that the latter is a more accurate assessment of the situation. Or it could be that I'm the idiot who doesn't understand comedy...

Anyway, Wesley discusses her self-inflicted and somewhat easily solvable problems (see the provided hot tips above) with her two closest friends, whilst they discuss their infertility and cheating husband problems. Wesley is also sad because she doesn't have a boyfriend/husband of her own. BUT STOP CONVERSING! BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO THROW IN A CLOSE-UP OF A CAT NAMED KEVIN AND SAY, "No, no, Kevin! You can't go outside. You're an indoor cat".

...It's at this point that I realise, Kevin is probably going to go outside at some point in this film...

Anyway, Wesley is on a quest to find a man, and after a failed date, she does happen to find one. The only catch is, she pretends to be a different person in order to date him. It's fairly innocent at first. She feigns disgust at a "doughnut wrapped hotdog" and pretends to like bubble soccer. However, she also tones down her reactions and her emotions in an effort to please this new flame named, Jared, which is not the ideal way to start a relationship. They do date for a month and they do have sex. However, Jared then ghosts her. She's enraged, and with the help of Brooke and Kaylie (those aforementioned friends), she sends him a drunken email, expressing her anger. Of course, it's soon revealed that Jared wasn't the nasty ghost that she thought he was. He was in fact, in a coma in Mexico and therefore unable to respond to her messages. So what does Wesley do? Naturally, she flies to Mexico, in an attempt to break into his hotel room, steal his laptop and delete the email that she sent. Look, it's not something that I'd do, but I don't know if that's because I'm lazy or logical. Her friends, are better people than myself obviously, because they drop everything to go with her.

It's time for me to clear something else up. Hypothetically, if you were to take a dildo on a weekend vacation, how would you pack it? I know how Wesley would: loosely and at the top of a tote bag. Surely that's not entirely hygienic? It's definitely unhygienic when said dildo flies out of said tote bag and onto the ground at the feet of a pre-teen boy. It's even worse when said boy's mother, stands agape and allows him to pick it up, rather than instructing him not to. I digress. My issue is not actually with loosely-packed dildos flying out of tote bags, my issue is with the fact that this series of events is supposed to be considered funny. Or that a variety of other jokes are made about sex and genitalia that either seem totally juvenile or pretty inappropriate. The flying dildo is one, the dolphin penis is another. When did sexual assault perpetrated by a dolphin become funny? There are also ongoing jokes about Wesley being a pedophile because of a series of unfortunate events relating to the same pre-teen. Again, why is it funny when someone is repeatedly accused of being a pedophile? At one point one of the hotel employees actually say, "Keep your eyes peeled for the niño molestor," and it's supposed to be humorous. It's not. And if all of this isn't juvenile enough, another hilarious joke occurs when a hotel employee injures himself and says, "Ow. My balls". The comedic style of this film absolutely ruined it for me. I can forgive some of the moments where Wesley is a selfish idiot. This is a part of her character. It's well-established. I can't forgive these other jokes, though. They are the kind of jokes that appeal to teenaged boys. However, this is a film where infertility is a really significant aspect of the plot. Kaylie is struggling with it, and Wesley herself has "Egg Freezing!" pamphlets throughout her apartment. It's not marketed at teenagers. It's alarming to me, that this could have been a witty film about three women, on a silly quest, who learn the value of friendship. Instead though, we get dolphin penises, dildos and testicle jokes...

Maybe I'm just getting old...maybe penises are actually hilarious and I'm the one who is wrong...maybe I should have let Charnstar take this review...

Although it's not as much of an issue for me as the jokes, I wasn't entirely impressed with the writing in this film. Desperados has overly-complex moments of plot. For example, Brooke and Kaylie sign up for paddle boarding, to give Wesley an opportunity to steal the hotel's master key. However, it turns out that Brooke can't paddle board because she has asthma and Kaylie can't paddle board because she said that she was pregnant, even though she isn't, so then Wesley has to take one for the team and go paddle boarding. Another example occurs before Jared is transported to the airport. Wesley tells him not to check his computer on the way. Jared assures her that he can't, because, "they've got our bags in another van". He doesn't appear to have travelling companions, so I'm not sure why he needs two vans. The second van also makes a stopover at a quinceañera on the way to the airport. It's really random and never really explained. I assume it's a plot point that exists, purely for the purpose of allowing Wesley to connect with another guy, but again, surely there are better ways to write this into a script. Many of these unnecessarily complicated moments, probably could have been eradicated with a little more brainstorming and a few more drafts.

You've probably guessed by now that I'm not an enormous fan of Desperados. In fact, I audibly groaned several times whilst watching this film. It might be, however, that you enjoy films of this style. Before wishing you on your merry way, I want to leave you with one more reason not to watch it. Before leaving Mexico, Wesley asks Jared if he's excited to return to L.A. and his response is a loud sigh, before the delivery of the line, "Back to civilisation and air conditioning". Jared may not be set up to look like a good guy in this film, but he's also not painted as the bad guy, so having his character refer to L.A. as "civilisation", and thereby infer that Mexico is uncivilised, is just...bad. I couldn't actually believe that line of dialogue was written into the script. Maybe I'm being too sensitive. Maybe I'm being petty. Maybe that's not the way that this line was intended. However, Jared was literally nursed through a coma, housed in a hospital for a week and personally escorted to the airport by Mexican hospital staff who even went so far as to offer to wheel him to his gate. This line is uncalled for.

I'm sorry to say, that my recommendation is: don't waste your time on this one.

Oh! And by the by, Kevin does eventually go outside.

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