(director/writer: Mark Pellington; screenwriter: Glenn Porter; cinematographer: Eric Schmidt; editor: Don Broida; music: tomanddandy; cast: Thomas Jane (Richard), Jeremy Piven (Ron), Rob Lowe (Jonathan), Christian McKay (Tim), Arielle Kebbel (Randi), Carla Gugino (Officer Boyde), Tom Bower (Captain Bob); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Rob Cowan/Norman Reiss/Mark Pellington; Magnolia Pictures; 2011)

“Pretentious toxic male bonding film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mark Pellington(“Arlington Road”/”Henry Poole Is Here“)directs and co-writes with Glenn Porter this pretentious toxic male bonding film, that goes down a low-rent Big Chill road until the middle-aged druggie boys, who have never grownup, have a meltdown over self-pity and go suicidal.

Reckless womanizing author-turned-teacher Richard (Thomas Jane), crooked investment manager and loyal family man Ron (Jeremy Piven), failed marriage and quack Dr. Feelgood type Jonathan (Rob Lowe) and self-loathing gay drifter artist Tim (Christian McKay) are college buddies who gather for a week each year in a cliffside rental mansion at California‚Äôs Big Sur to celebrate Tim’s birthday and renew their friendship. After the boys do drugs, party and have endless tiresome conversations, the untimely death of one of the unhappy friends sets off a series of events that are too ridiculous to take seriously but plays out as the heart of the film–as things turn into an unbelievable crime mystery story.

The pic piles on heavy drug use, stress over failed life ambitions, pain from loss, loud background music from the Sex Pistols and a midlife-crisis on four unsympathetic characters, who try to escape their miserable lives by always being high. When the drugs wear off, the age 40-something men discover they can’t face life when sober and take comfort that misery loves company.The depressing melodrama is unpersuasive, not entertaining and the acting is so over-the-top it could make you seasick if you don’t jump ship.