Take the 10 Takes the L

In these troubling times in modern history, you have to ask yourself one question. Is there anything America needs more right now than a new Josh Peck movie?

Take The 10 stars the former Nickelodeon mainstay, as Chris, a conniving cashier at an upscale grocery store in Los Angeles and the up and coming Tony Revolori, most notably from The Grand Budapest Hotel, as Chester, his best friend and co-worker. The Netflix buddy comedy adopts an unfortunate non-linear plot, bouncing primarily and meaninglessly between Chester, looking to trade in his life for a boarding pass to Brazil and Chris, scheming on fake tickets to Rock the Bells (remember that because it gets brought up every other scene). Then enter another plotline with Kevin Corrigan, a smaller but enjoyable branch in the Apatow family tree, as Danny, the sleazeball grocery store manager who must pay his looming debts by day’s end. Chester Tam, the writer and director of the film (yes, his name is also Chester), injects himself as Jay, a self-loathing and closeted homosexual drug dealer looking to kill all the other characters. Imagine if Christopher Nolan’s Memento had a secret love child with Road Trip 3: Beer Pong. It is one ugly baby and it just escaped from the daycare.

Chris graduates quickly to full on sociopath as he lies and steals everything in his path including all the money from Chester’s register at work, a giant bag of MDMA capsules from Jay, and stealing a real set of Rock the Bells tickets. What is provided as antics and hijinks in the film’s description are actually felony theft and possession with the intent to sell. Peck seems so eager to shed his child star image by playing this morally regrettable character. It makes one wonder where Drake is? Could he be the yang to Josh’s yin?

The film contains a variety of juvenile wisecracks, over the top profanity, and any remaining tropes from early 2000’s comedies fit for young teenagers. Only to then completely alienate that same audience with hyper-specific jokes about Los Angeles, obscure traffic references, and the repeated mentioning of Waze; hammering home with clubfisted hands in the 10–2 position that traffic does in fact suck in Southern California. When glimpses of substance present themselves, they are immediately countered with a stereotypical vacuousness of being in Los Angeles too long. I noted 18 times during the film where characters rely on an iPhone to present information or advance the plot. It was like sitting in a painfully long UberPool with the cast and no one wants to look up from their Snapchat. Was that sentence LA enough?

The humor never reaches a level beyond lukewarm with likely expensive cameos from Saturday Night Live grads Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen and Reno 911’s Carlos Alazraqui. Take The 10 looks like it was filmed on Panavision and edited with a pirated copy of Adobe Premiere. The prop money, integral to all the plotlines and presented prominently in a few scenes, is downright fake. Clearly preshot concert footage is harshly intercut with sparse crowd scenes at the film’s climax for no real reason. With respect to this being an indie film and the difficulties that entails, the budget here assuredly could have been spent better.

Chris and Chester are unable to convince us that they were friends at any point. Chris misleads and takes from Chester and yet Chester is smart enough to have known this the whole time. They have a classic friend break up scene, reminiscent of any other buddy film ever, three separate times with each scene following like nothing at all has happened. Peck has a good look (he might even be hot) and would be much better suited for a film with any semblance of reality. Revolori delivers his lines with enough conviction to tolerate the nervous yet redeemable Chester but cannot keep this clunker rolling down the highway.

Take The 10 is insipid, empty, and unrelatable; a film more suitable for Crackle or the defunct Google Video. It paints to a younger, unsupervised audience that you can have your cake and eat it too. Just make sure it was stolen from Whole Foods.

2 out of the 10

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