While there are a smattering of laughs across Prank!’s mercifully short running time, as a whole the “jokes” fall flat. On a few occasions this must be intentional – Prank! has to understand that none of these practical jokes are in any way clever or original. While sequences from the point of view of the “victims” do well to emphasise the pointlessness of this pranking crusade, the film doesn’t make a clear decision about whether it thinks these kids are geniuses or morons.
It takes about 30 seconds in the company of these childish reprobates to find their squabbles irritating and their jokes uninspired, but Prank! doesn’t go to any effort to make them sympathetic, or even to damn them. Instead we watch as they take a metaphorical (and literal) crap all over their community and each other, without any real consequence or narrative escalation.
There are opportunities for the film to go further, but these are mostly wasted. Pigeon finds the thoughtful artist and friend lurking behind Jean-Sé, and his excited explanation of ‘80s movies backed by his illustrations make for some sweet interludes. However, Prank! is more interested in trudging down the same roads as every other coming-of-age teen drama – the manic pixie love interest, her jealous boyfriend, the overbearing ennui of growing up. The actors themselves do well to capture the contrast between petty cruelty and sporadic thoughtfulness inherent in all teenagers, but if they’ve been asked to make their characters likeable, they certainly won’t be getting a passing grade.
In some ways, the movie itself feels like the greatest prank of them all. An appropriate post-credits stinger would be director Vincent Biron laughing after having made you suffer through 70 minutes of meaningless dross – it would certainly be in the spirit of this movie.
CAST: Étienne Galloy, Simon Pigeon, Alexandre Lavigne, Constance Massicotte
DIRECTOR: Vincent Biron
WRITERS: Vincent Biron, Alexandre Augure, Erik K. Boulianne, Mark Antoine-Rioux
SYNOPSIS: Stefie, a lonely young boy, is approached by Martin, Jean-Sé and Lea to record their daily pranks with his cellphone. The four prankmeisters decide to set up an antic that goes beyond anything they’ve done so far… but who will be the victim?