Mono (2016): Gross and Boring (Review)

Screenshot from Mono

There are worse films on offer from Netflix (Death Squad for example) but Mono has managed to corner the market on gross and boring content.  The plot is based upon two high school dweebs gathering a girl’s spit, aka saliva, aka spittle, that has the mononucleosis virus  in it. They then put this stuff in people’s drinks infecting  a huge portion of their school.  Exciting? No. Boring and gross? Yes.

Mono was a film that, until the spit, had promise. One of the film’s stars is Sam Lerner. Lerner voiced “Chowder” in the brilliant 2006 animated film Monster House. The film is funny and the lines just perfect. Lerner’s character had great dialogue (“My nose is in my brain!”) and the kid sold his part well.

This dull as dishwater effort did nothing for Lerner or his two co-stars, Ty Parker and Sarah De La Isla.  Co-written by Ronan MacRory and Bryan Madole and directed by Jarrett Lee Conaway Mono is an ’80s Revenge of the Nerds wannabe that just misses the mark full stop.

The characters are too quirky and try too hard to be misfits.  At least one character cannot be categorized as either. Parker’s character Wyatt  is on the football team as a punter which, in most high schools,  would not count as a “loser” at all.

La Isla’s character; JP  can hardly be called a misfit. She  has a grey rinse  and wears  enough garish lipstick to paint Don Rickles’ mouth but  this is her only real “loser” trait.

Mono the disease is still apparently a thing, even in this day and age, and it must have seemed like a good idea to make a film around it.  However the humor is nonexistent, not a good thing for a comedy, and the plot device of putting spit in people’s drinks is just revolting.

This offering from FOX Digital feels like an afterthought mixed with a drunken night out.  Mono has two teenager boys being charged with bioterrorism (for mixing the spit in their classmate’s drinks) but all three of the stars end up getting in trouble. Sort of.

At an 88 minutes run time  the movie feels twice as long.  It cannot be easy to make a film about high school hijinks boring,  but kudos to all involved they managed to do so with apparent ease. One viewer actually thought the entire cast was made up of Vine “stars.”

(There are a couple of “digital stars” in the film but mercifully not in lead roles.)

In at least one way the film has gotten the microcosm of High School down pat. It is a micro societal mirror of the real world with “clicks” and a brutal caste system.  This is, however, the only thing that feels authentic about the film’s setting.

Mono lacks the quirky fun of Napoleon Dynamite or the snarky humor of Mean Girls.  The film really feels like a Nickelodeon reject. A movie that even Amanda Bynes in her non-halcyon days would not have been caught dead in.

This one is a 1 star effort. There are a couple of moments where the film almost reaches funny. The single star is a bit generous but to be fair the film is not as bad as Death Squad. Avoid this one to keep from losing 88 minutes you will never get back.

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