What would happen if the guys from American Pie and EuroTrip never grew up?
I think the most surprising thing about She’s In Portland is that it didn’t come out between 2000 and 2010. With a screenplay packed with a good dose of misogyny, I was shocked that Marc Carlini was comfortable shooting and releasing this in 2020. It attempts to be a more adult version of films like EuroTrip and Sex Drive. She’s In Portland lacks the maturity, self-reflection, and social commentary it desperately needs. Unfortunately, writers Marc Carlini and Patrick Alexander were in love with their lead characters too much.
The film is more interested in making excuses for its lead characters than having them take responsibility for their actions. These moments of clarity for the two leads don’t really come until the end of the film, which is too late. She’s In Portland‘s two lead characters don’t always seem to make sense as friends and conflict throughout the film in disastrous ways. Wes’s personality overpowers Luke’s, which makes it hard to separate the two. Even though Luke is his own person, it’s hard to defend him sometimes considering he’s friends with Wes in the first place.
Wes (Tommy Dewey) is the main lead of the film and the late-thirties version of the guy you knew in college who only cared about partying and having sex. He’s basically Steve Stifler from the American Pie films. There’s a reason why Stifler isn’t the lead of those movies. He works in the American Pie movies because the other characters are there to condemn and call him out on most of his actions. In She’s In Portland the only person to call Wes out is his friend Luke (François Arnaud), the other lead. He does his best, but it’s hard when Carlini tries to often defend Wes, which isn’t a hill I would want to die on.
Wes is a douchey womanizer who drags Luke on a road trip to get his “one that got away.” Wes claims the road trip is for Luke, when really he just wants to find a way to get away from his wife, whose crimes are that she’s pregnant and expects him to be responsible. Wes is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve watched this year. He is the film’s disease that spreads and ruins any chance the film had at being good. As a director, Carlini is incredibly committed to his lead. He could have had Wes’s behavior change in order to make some moments less difficult to stomach, but he stays truthful to him and the story he’s telling.
I think a film like She’s In Portland is only successful if it’s trying to make a point, commenting on the behavior of womanizing men that never grew up, condemning them, and trying to educate the audience. If any of those intentions are there, they’re lost in the misguided sympathy that Carlini spreads. Luke (François Arnaud) is the only male character worth feeling sorry for at times. The film’s worst moment comes in its third act, when it very plainly tries to conjure up sympathy for Wes after every terrible thing he has done has been revealed. I just don’t understand why a writer/director would have a character like Wes as a lead if they’re not going to make a strong statement on his behavior. It comes across as out of touch, which might be the best way to explain She’s In Portland overall.