“[A] black-humored crowd pleaser.”

by Nav Qateel

First-time director Tim Garrick has done a surprisingly able job of turning the Ric Browde novel ‘While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog’ into the black-humored crowd pleaser Behaving Badly. The screenplay was written by both Scott Russell and Tim Garrick, the third movie script penned by the duo, one of which was the popular comedy-thriller from back in 2000 Stranger Than Fiction.

Filmed over twenty days at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles, Behaving Badly tells the story of Rick Stevens, a school kid with a crush on Nina Pennington. After accepting a bet with wacko mobster’s son Karlis Malinauskas (Nate Hartley), where he has just two weeks to get a date with Nina, Rick finds himself facing a jealous ex, a nymphomaniac mother, a sex-mad boss, pubic crabs, gangsters, nuns, stripers and a host of other characters, who are sure to amuse you as much as they did me.

This type of romantic comedy is hardly new, but where Behaving Badly differed from its predecessors was that it got almost everything right. One film that reminded me in many ways to Behaving Badly was Michael Dowse’s Take Me Home Tonight. The great cast director Garrick assembled for his debut movie was pretty impressive and certainly played a part of how well the multi-layered tale came nicely together. Every actor looked as though they were having fun with their crazy characters and this came through loud and clear in their performances.

Behaving Badly
Directed by
Tim Garrick
Selena Gomez, Nat Wolff, Elisabeth Shue, Mary-Louise Parker, Ashley Rickards
Release Date
Nav’s Grade: B

Nat Wolff plays the lead character Rick Stevens, who belongs to a family that have more issues than most. Rick’s mom Lucy (Mary-Louise Parker) is an alcoholic, and his dad (Cary Elwes) is a pervert who only shows up when he wants something from Lucy. His intelligent foul-mouthed sister Kirsten (played by Mensa member Ashley Rickards) is a stripper and she’s trying to get into Stanford University, while big brother Steven (Mitch Hewer) is struggling to stay in the closet. Parker had two roles here as the actress also played Rick’s ‘sort of’ fairy godmother. The entire Stevens’ clan were a hoot, with my fave being sister Kirsten.

The object of Rick’s desire and the reason he finds himself in a crazy situation, is all thanks to the crush he has on the cute Nina Pennington. Nina is played by Selena Gomez, who I’m sure will be the main draw for this film. Nina wants to be a priest after she finishes her studies, as she likes helping people and tells Rick she has a calling. While there are small similarities to Gomez’s character Faith from Spring Breakers, Nina is far more innocent than Faith. Fans of Gomez certainly won’t be disappointed as the actress put on an expectedly good performance.

For the more mature viewer like myself, we were treated to some hot ladies who took our minds off the fact that we felt guilty for liking the extremely young-looking 23-year-old Gomez. I speak of women who we drooled over many moons ago and still do, like Elisabeth Shue when she was in Back to the Future, and Heather Graham ever since seeing her in Drugstore Cowboy. And let’s not forget Mary-Louise Parker who we admired after her turn in Fried Green Tomatoes. All three actresses can still turn heads and the fact director Tim Garrick is of a similar age, I’m guessing that back-in-the-day he was also a fan.

Out of the many great performances in Behaving Badly–and there really were many to choose from as the actors each turned in fine work–I’d have to go with Dylan McDermott as Rick’s oversexed boss Jimmy Leach. McDermott got right into his character and really gave it his all, which was very effective and fun to watch. In fact, the entire movie was fun to watch, and even the darker elements of the film were handled well, making the entire production a great experience. Behaving Badly ends on a didactic note, and rounds off the film rather nicely. I’m sure some will want to overanalyze the film, but I prefer to simply sit back and enjoy the ride… and what a fun ride it was. Behaving Badly is now available on iTunes and will have its cinematic release on September 5th.