On Saturday Night Live, Bill Hader would frequent Weekend Update segments as hip clubgoer Stefon and review the latest, most bizarre nightclubs. Urge plays like a live-action version of what Stefon would describe as a “hot spot”. “After being admitted into the club by eyes projected on the side of the building, guests are fondled by the staff while a man in a balloon suit entertains them, followed by a night of bath salt binging”.
The drug in Urge (also named “urge”) isn’t the controversial bath salts – it’s more glamourous and vivid in its colour palette – but it very well could be. Multiple hits cause partiers to engage in intense sex including bondage, arrange fight clubs, and even kill people. If marijuana is a gateway drug to other substances, urge is a gateway drug to miscellaneous criminal deviancy. However, Urge plays out like a reboot of the 1936 cautionary flick Reefer Madness. Both elicit the same amount of unintentional laughs.
Aaron Kaufman’s surreal film is basically a horror movie where the monster is replaced with an addictive and elusive party drug – its users do its bidding. The film is also a morality tale of abusing privilege and the sins of temptation. It’s also a movie where the audience is supposed to be amused by excess and attracted to its portrayal of partying. Urge wants to be so many things, yet screenwriter Jerry Stahl (Bad Boys II) can’t stick to a main focus, which leaves the audience with halfhearted attempts at all of the above.
Urge is a hot mess on wheels. Although, the mention of wheels would imply the film goes somewhere – it doesn’t. The cast (including No Stranger Than Love’s Justin Chatwin, Ashley Greene of the Twilight saga, Bad Johnson’s Nick Thune, and That ’70s Show Danny Masterson who also serves as a producer) are inserted into lavish and tense scenarios with personalities that don’t match. They all appear to be making the best out of a heavy-handed premise and forced edginess. Pierce Brosnan (appearing more times on the DVD box art than in the actual movie) is the provider of urge and visits Chatwin with long-winded standoffs that hold the former James Bond back from exploring ambitious angles to his villainous role.
Little does Urge know, Brosnan is more than capable of providing the sense of humour and relief this static film needs.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie