SUNDOWN

Producer: Pablo Lebrija, Regina Lebrija, Leonardo Zimbron and Sandro Halphen
Director: Fernando Lebrija
Writer: Miguel Tejada-Flores and Fernando Lebrija
Stars: Devon Werkheiser, Sean Marquette, Camilla Belle, Silverio Palacios, Jordi Molla, Sara Paxton, Teri Hatcher, John Michael Higgins and Steve Aoki
Studio: Pantelion

D-

This raunchy teen comedy strains to achieve a John Hughes vibe, but misses by a mile—plenty of miles, actually, since it ventures all the way to Puerto Vallarta in its futile search for laughs. Call it “Logan and Blake’s Miserable Adventure.”

The only saving grace of Fernando Lebrija’s picture (written by him and Miguel Tejada-Flores) is Devon Werkheiser, the engaging if (here at least) trifle pallid young actor who stars as Logan, a decent-enough high school kid with an unfortunate obsession to become an EDM DJ that, along with his penchant for disappointing his parents (Teri Hatcher and John Michael Higgins), has put a comic strain in his home life. His real problem, however is his BF Blake (Sean Marquette), a motor-mouthed oaf who’s constantly egging him on to reckless actions, like taking his dad’s prize Porsche out to impress Lina (Sara Paxton), the classmate he’s gaga over (Bueller? Bueller?).

With Mom and Dad getting ready for a cruise and Spring Break approaching, Logan is tasked to prove his reliability by keeping house and car safe for the duration and picking up from the jewelers the Rolex watch that’s a family heirloom. Of course Blake, who’s intent on getting footage for his proposed girls-having-fun website, has other ideas. He’s planning a trip to Mexico for him and Logan, persuading his pal to go by telling him that’s where Lina will be. And he foolishly takes that watch along.

Naturally Blake’s arrangements are a disaster, and when they’re thrown out of the hotel they’d planned to stay at, they’re forced to make a deal with Chuy (Silverio Palacios), the voluble little cabbie who drove them from the airport. He’s the consummate hustler (and utter stereotype), and gets them a place to stay. They go on to revels in the beach city’s dance clubs, where some (apparently) famous EDM DJs ply their trade, Logan links up with Gaby (Camilla Belle), whom he takes to a snazzy pad for the night, though it turns out she’s a…well, you know. Meanwhile horny Blake winds up with voluptuous broad who turns out to be…well, you’ve seen “The Crying Game.” You also know what sort of crummy homophobic moments are requisite in frat-boy stuff like this.

The most important plot point, though, is that Gaby sneaks off with that Rolex, which she turns over to her boss (Jordi Molla), an even worse stereotype. He demands big bucks from Logan for its return, which brings him, Blake, Chuy and a repentant, misunderstood Gaby into a partnership to retrieve it. Much mayhem ensues, but it’s of the action-comedy variety one is likely to encounter in late-night premium cable movies of dubious origin and worse quality. And a coda in which Logan returns home undercuts any remotely serious point there might have been to the whole mess by simply sweeping away all questions about his conduct and handing him rewards instead of the slapdown he so richly deserves.

Still, Werkheiser’s natural nice-guy persona might have make this unsavory brew tolerable were it not for the companionship of Marquette, who might be a pleasant enough fellow off-screen but all too persuasively portrays the ultimate boor, the ugly American teen at his very worst (though he looks older than the character’s eighteen years.) There’s an inevitable scene when the two guys have a falling-out, of course, but it’s only preparatory to a reconciliation, which comes as an extreme disappointment. The girls, Belle and Paxton, are little more than eye candy that the camera ogles lasciviously, and Palacios and Molla are such repugnant creatures that one can only marvel at the apparent support of the Mexican government for a production that presents one of its main tourist attractions in such an unflattering light. On the other hand, the visuals show off the locales well enough. Maybe that, rather than the narrative, was considered the important point.

As it is, “Sundown” is more likely to make you want to avoid Puerto Vallarta than to visit there. Better yet, just avoid “Sundown.”