I Was Seperated at Birth from Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn spot on again. But what about? Surely some Islamophobic hating socialist baiting agenda, surely?!

Well no, not quite. We both loved Euro Trip. From Steyn Online

from The Spectator, June 26th 2004

I wouldn’t usually review teen comedies two weeks in a row, but I loved Eurotrip. Well, I loved the first two-thirds of it. It got crummy reviews in America – “Tasteless Eurotrip Doesn’t Travel Well” – and sank without trace, and I expect it’ll do the same in Britain. But it seems to me there is rare wisdom in its sense of its own limitations.

The plot is really no more than a pencil outline. Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) has finished high school in Ohio and been dumped by his girlfriend. When he mentions this to his penpal in Germany, the German guy starts coming on to him. Enraged, Scotty breaks off all contact. His friend Coop (Jacob Pitts) then points out to him that “Mieke” is not German for Mike but a girl’s name, and that, in the photograph of Mieke and “his” cousin Jan, Jan is not the hot-looking blonde but “Yan” the dorky-looking guy. The hot-looking blonde is Mieke – or “Meeka”.

So Scotty and Coop decide to fly to Berlin. Unfortunately, the only available cheap flight is to London. But not to worry, says Coop. “The whole of Europe is, like, the size of the Eastwood Mall. We can walk to Berlin from there.” So off they set: London to Paris to Amsterdam to Bratislava - whoops - back to Berlin and then to Rome, with time for one low ethnic stereotype gag at each stop.

In America, those reviewers with memories of their own pre-college Grand Tour to refer back to took a sniffy view of the stereotypes on offer. In London, for example, Scotty and Coop go into a pub full of Man United fans. “Why,” wondered The Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, flaunting his cosmopolitan sophistication, “would a group of fans from a northern English region speak in London-area accents, unless they were the so-called Cockney Red variety of Man U. fan? And why would they be wearing shirts that bear no resemblance to their club colours?”

Well, maybe because it’s a movie, and the stereotype has been distilled to its essence. Surrounded by menacing yobs, Scotty and Coop claim to be from the Manchester United Fan Club of Ohio. When Vinnie Jones challenges them to sing the club song, Scotty thinks for a moment and then tries a little Sheena Easton:

My baby takes the Morning Train
He works from nine to five and then
He takes another home again…

And amazingly he’s right! A deeply touched Vinnie embraces his Ohio brethren, and pretty soon Scott and Coop are in the thick of it as their new pals are affectionately shattering beer glasses over their heads and going “Fooking great, fooking fookers!” and so forth.

Is Sheena Easton really the official Man Utd song? Or is Desson Thomson correct and the film is inadequately researched? Who knows? The point is, having got thoroughly rat-arsed, Scotty and Coop come round the next morning and realize that that pleasant breeze riffling through their hair is because they’re on the top deck of a topless double-decker bearing the legend “IF YOUR [SIC] NOT A MANC YOUR [SIC] A WANK” hurtling down the left-hand side of a French autoroute because Vinnie Jones thinks driving on the right is for Frog nancies. “Fook off, tossers!” he yells at the oncoming Renaults and Citroens.

Who can argue this ten minutes doesn’t capture the essence of England at least as well as the entire Merchant Ivory and Richard Curtis oeuvres rolled into one? Scotty and Coop stagger down the stairs to the lower deck to find the lads already awash in the first 15 early morning pints. “You guys have a completely different level of swearing over here!” marvels Coop.

After that, the stereotypes get a bit more hit and miss. The Continental men are mostly creepy perverts and indiscriminate bisexuals, which seems accurate enough, from my experience. There’s a smiling, moustachioed, predatory Italian in a white suit who enters their compartment and, as the train emerges from successive tunnels, he’s stroking one of the Americans’ legs, or nuzzling his neck, or, after one very long tunnel, sitting back contentedly on the seat smoking a cigarette. Each time he’s caught, he implores oleaginously, “Mi scoooosi…. Mi scooooooooooosi…”, and then does it again. But in Paris it’s a tiresome mime making the mile-long queue for the Louvre move even slower. And in Amsterdam, it’s an S&M dungeon.

But, as I said, I was howling with laughter. In among the nudist jokes and Pope jokes, Eurotrip is an honest acknowledgment of near total ignorance. One thing I’m surer and surer of since September 11th is that America and Europe know next to nothing about each other. Every Monday I get a big pile of London Sunday papers full of lame features professing to have the inside track on the latest trends in America, and it’s all, as the Speccie’s esteemed editor would say, complete bollocks. The one saving grace of the American media is that they can’t be bothered to reciprocate: a four-decade old joke about the alleged French obsession with mime will do for at least another four or five decades, by which time the Fifth Republic will be the First Islamic Republic of France and the Yanks may have to come up with a new gag. Eurotrip, its scenes of Paris, Berlin and Rome all filmed on the cheap in Prague, somehow captures the state of the Atlantic alliance more accurately than any in-depth analysis.

Plus every girl except the luscious-lipped lead (Michelle Trachtenberg) takes her top off.

And Matt Damon gives his best ever performance in a cameo as the shaven-headed rocker who’s nailing Scotty’s girlfriend and gets a hit song out of it, “Scotty Doesn’t Know”:

I can’t believe he’s so trusting
While I’m behind you thrusting…

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