Published May 22, 2013As heartfelt and personal a debut feature as The Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On undoubtedly may be for its writer/director/star Drew Denny, it's the kind of road movie where the characters seem confined to the back seat, merely along for the ride. As it continues to spin its wheels in earnest, with frequently captivating cinematography and a jangly indie rock soundtrack, we still never quite manage to go anywhere.
Andy (Denny) and Liv (Sarah Hagan) are childhood friends who have taken divergent paths in life. They have reunited to spread the ashes of Andy's father at specific spots along the way from L.A. to Austin, Texas. Liv is the more conservative of the two, following closer to the morals of their shared Christian upbringing than the rebellious Andy. Also an aspiring actress, Liv has an audition awaiting her in Austin for the role of a sexy vixen.
Along the way, Andy predictably attempts to bring out the wild side in Liv, as an aborted attempt to seduce a "townie" soon gives way to naked cliff jumping. The two talk late into the night in their tents and cheap motel rooms, with a rehearsal for Liv's audition culminating in a kiss that hints at a deeper relationship neither the movie nor its characters seem to want to fully address.
There is an almost defiant disregard for story structure, as a much-discussed meeting with Andy's mom ultimately fizzles out unceremoniously. When Liv and Andy eventually separate, the film becomes even more languid and evocative than before, making it increasingly hard to remain invested in Andy's supposedly profound journey. Flashes of poetically stylized dialogue and some awfully pretty visuals can't redeem the placid development of the characters.
The film is dedicated to Denny's own father, whose death was instrumental in its creation. In a key moment, Andy watches a projection of a conversation between Denny and her real-life father, and the scene carries a unique power that unfortunately fits incongruously with all that's come before. It's evident that the production was likely a healing experience for Denny, an opportunity to channel her grief into a creative endeavour.
However, a project like this can sometimes be a bit like looking at photos from someone else's vacation for the viewer. We empathize with the feelings of the exhibitors and are genuinely interested in hearing all about it, but try as they might, they can never quite conjure the experience of having been there. (Continental)