Just Say No to ‘The Binge’

Hulu movie will make you wish you’d done drugs instead

It’s not hard to think The Binge is a movie from 2013, when The Purge came out. But no, this lazy riff on the “what if crimes were legal for one night” formula comes seven years later, with none of The Purge’s social commentary and none of the things that make high school coming-of-age films great – or funny.


THE BINGE(1/5 stars)
Directed by: Jeremy Garelick
Written by: Jordan VanDina
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Skyler Gisondo, Dexter Darden, Eduardo Franco, Grace Van Dien
Running time: 98 mins


The Binge (narrated with faux gravitas by an imitation Morgan Freeman) takes place in near-future America where citizens have voted to make all drugs illegal, except for one day: The Binge. The system has become so effective that The Binge has turned America into a nation of people who were made to smoke the whole pack of cigarettes after getting caught. Second-time bingers are rare, and three-time bingers are rarer still. The nation exorcises its most debauched behaviors in one day, and everyone moves on.

For Griffin (Skyler Gisondo), Hags (Dexter Darden) and Andrew (Eduardo Franco), the Binge is the mythical One Night Where Everything Can Change, that reliable plot device of every teen movie. Griffin wants to work up the courage to ask his crush Lena (Grace Van Dien) to the prom. Hags wants to spend more time with Griffin before Griffin heads off to Brown in the fall. Andrew just wants some friends. (Sound familiar?) And Lena’s dad Principal Carlsen (Vince Vaughn) wants everyone to stop participating in The Binge–until he gives into his old school (and Old School) self.

The Binge
‘The Binge’: DON’T DO IT (Hulu). 

If you are looking for a decent teen or drug movie, there are better contenders in every category. The Binge is not as raunchy as American Pie, not as heartfelt as Booksmart or Superbad, not as depraved as The Hangover and not as horny as anything from the ‘80s. A Beerfest-esque drug competition makes up the last 20 minutes of the movie, but even that feels halfhearted. There are a few jokes that land, but they are few and far between. Writer Jordan VanDina seems to think the height of comedy is Family Guy non-sequiturs and characters who yell punch lines. And while The Purge used its jarring plot to make a point about class warfare and crime, The Binge offers no critique of how our country uses drugs. It would rather show you a 17-year-old race another 17-year-old in a cocaine-snorting contest. It’s lazy.

But I realize that watching this movie sober might have been a bad idea. I can’t condone the characters’ use of stuff like PCP, methamphetamines or cocaine, but I do love a good drinking game.

In the spirit of The Binge, here are the rules to a handy drinking game to help anyone who may choose to watch this Purge-by-way-of-Superbad ripoff. Follow these rules, and you might not even remember the movie.

Take a sip:

-Every time Griffin stumbles over his words in front of Lena.

-Every time Hags tries to get Griffin to do something he doesn’t want to do.

-Every time Andrew yells something or is just “random”.

-Every time someone makes a non-sequitir joke.

-Every time the fake Morgan Freeman narration pops up.

-Every time a character mentions a drug, or every time someone mentions another name for a drug.

-Every time you can’t tell if Vince Vaughn is playing the principal as a mean principal, a doting father, a corrupt city council member, a repressed addict or all four at once.

-Every time any character talks about how The Binge “is the one night where we can change everything!”

-Every time you think about another, better teen raunchfest.

-Every time a character says they know what certain drugs do when they clearly don’t know.

Take a shot:

-Every time a text messaging mishap happens.

-Every time a character takes a shot.

-At the end of the Boogie Nights ripoff scene, which features wristband snaps instead of firecracker pops.

Chug:

-Every time you genuinely laugh (my vote goes to Vince Vaughn’s reading of “that bitch has chaotic energy”)

-Throughout the entire musical number in the third act. Yes, there’s a musical number, and if the movie had stuck with that creative, off-the-wall energy, it might have been something.

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Jake Harris

Jake Harris is a Texas-based journalist whose writing about pop culture and entertainment has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Nashville Scene and more. You can find more of his writings at jakeharrisbog.com or through his pop culture newsletter, Jacob's Letter.

3 thoughts on “Just Say No to ‘The Binge’

  • August 31, 2020 at 1:57 pm
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    Not every movie has to be a comment on our society or a deeper look into peoples minds. Some movies can just be dumb fun. And I feel like The Binge did that perfectly. I feel this film is more of a 4/5 or a 4.5/5. Not perfect but definitely not 1/5

    Reply

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