‘The Binge’ offers some familiar fun

In the mid 2000s, the name Vince Vaughn was inescapable in the world of mainstream comedy. The star was at the center of many now iconic films. He made history with the hilarious Dodgeball, the rewatchable hit that somehow gets funnier after every viewing, satirized romance in The Break-Up, and basically owned the holiday season with Four Christmases and Fred Claus.

After an unprecedented streak of gems, like the many talented comedians at the time, Vaughn slowly lost steam and eventually dropped off of the map a decade after his career peak.

With a few scattered films here and there, Vaughn never quite fully tried his hand in a recent comedy film, that is, until Hulu’s The Binge hit the streaming service. Toeing the line between The Purge and Project X, The Binge shares the DNA of many of Vaughn’s earlier hits, modernizing itself to fit in a newly PC forced culture. The results are mostly great.

Though it won’t be the talk of the town, the film is a breezy reintroduction to a comedy legend and a group of younger hopefuls breaking into the scene. The Binge opens to Principal Carleson (Vaughn) gathering his students for an assembly on the eve of “The Binge,” the one night a year when drinking and drugs are legal in the United States. He warns students of the dangers and consequences of partying. His deadpan delivery of the traditions and binge history is signature Vaughn, immediately gripping viewers. He sets the tone, preparing the audience for another debaucherous high school comedy akin to Superbad and Booksmart.

The remainder of the film is dedicated to two high school best friends Griffin and Hags, played by Skylar Gisondo and Dexter Darden. Griffin, a shy and awkward brainiac, seeks to prompose to his crush using the uninhibited backdrop of the binge as a crutch. Meanwhile, Hags looks for binge glory, dedicated to win the infamous Binge competition and find glory among his peers.

By no comparison should The Binge stand among the more prestigious coming of age comedies of this time. It’s instead some well executed familiar fun. There’s nothing forward thinking or wholly original about the story. Rather, it appropriates the films of its genre, deftly amalgamating them into an often hilarious rollercoaster.

Principal Carlesson is easily the standout character of the film. Vaughn’s intimidating stature and mysterious demeanor throughout the film provides the laughs when the film, at time, drags on with tired gags of past, superior films. From being mistaken as a stripper to duking it out with a crocodile, Vaughn hasn’t been this funny in years.

The Binge works well enough. It’s only strengthened by Vaughn and the peripheral cast of committed actors. With random musical numbers, mind numbing physical gags, and enough one liners to hold over viewers in spite of the more ludicrous moments, The Binge is a worthy watch. It could even be the perfect lead-in to an anthology series of individuals far and wide congregating to binge.

Author: Kieran Sweeney

Writing about entertainment for the better part of a decade and consuming it twice as much, Kieran Sweeney is "the" pop culture aficionado. A connoisseur of the intersection of art and commercialism, the USC Annenberg graduate has earned his reputation as an empathetic and thoughtful writer. His resume includes USC's The Daily Trojan, USC Viterbi News, and personal assistance for publicity and marketing companies from Drill Down Media to This Fiction. His intersectional experience in the industry points to his wit and unfiltered thoughts on the latest project in entertainment

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