Amy Poehler broke through as a leading lady courtesy of “Baby Mama” – but that movie wasn’t her first starring role.
“Spring Breakdown” cast the uber-talented “SNL” alum as a former geek reliving her college days alongside her two best chums.
It’s a perfect set up for Poehler’s unbridled skill set, but it lingered in distribution limbo before making its way to DVD June 2.
You don’t have to read tea leaves to understand why. The film just couldn’t capitalize on the comic actress’ way with a wacky character.
The women of “Spring Breakdown” – Gayle (Poehler), Judi (Rachel Dratch) and Becky (Parker Posey) still suffer the psychological scars of their college days, but each seems to have found her niche in the adult world.
Gayle is a successful dog trainer, while Becky toils for a God fearing, gun slinging senator (Jane lynch). And Judi seems content with her fiance, an effeminate man (Seth Meyers) clearly holding the closet door tightly shut.
Their staid lives gets a shakeup when Becky’s boss asks her to watch over the Senator’s daughter (Amber Tamblyn) while she lives it up on Spring Break. Seems the senator is in line to replace the disgraced VP, and she wants to make sure her daughter doesn’t emulate the Bush Twins at any time during vacation.
It’s all an excuse for the women to live out their spring break fantasies, but it’s far too much wish fulfillment and too few laughs. Worse, the characters are either unfocused or unflattering.
Sure Posey’s Becky is a tree hugger, but she’s too annoying to appreciate her devotion to green living. And Poehler is just riffing on past “SNL” characters, the ones who wear out their welcome by the time a sketch ends.
We get no such relief here.
Missi Pyle steals a half dozen scene as a burned out hotel employee, and Meyers wring a few giggles out of his penchant for dropping the last syllable of every other word to appear trendy.
But the musical numbers which bookend the film don’t have an iota of funny between them, and the senator’s daughter storyline gets put on the shelf for long stretches. It’s as if even the screenwriters couldn’t be bothered to follow their own plot.
The comedy does provide a rare outlet for Dratch’s manic energy. She’s a firecracker who, unfortunately, came of age at a time when comic actresses need to be beautiful to get steady work.
“Spring Breakdown” does deliver a few sharp moments, though they’re of the ‘blink and you’ll miss ‘em’ variety. And the film’s actual “Breakdown” occurs in the final half hour where the occasional laughs all but dry up.
(Photo: Parkey Posey, Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch star in “Spring Breakdown,” a new straight-to-DVD comedy hitting stores June 2)