Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay and Thomas Jane star in "I… (Nick Lombardi / Magnolia…)
Men desperately seeking binges of self-destructive excess dominate screens so much already that "I Melt With You" initially feels like the umpteenth episode of a mysteriously long-running television series.
It even stars a handful of now-TV faces — Thomas Jane ("Hung"), Jeremy Piven ("Entourage"), Rob Lowe ("Parks and Recreation") — who along with Christian McKay play longtime buddies in their 40s who meet annually to drink, inhale, pop and snort a battery of illegal substances at a rented hillside manor by the sea.
But their responsibility-averting bacchanal is really just music video-stylized window dressing for a loony tune of wallowing self-pity about busted promises that writer Glenn Porter and director Mark Pellington mistakenly believe is psychedelic psychodrama of the highest order.
The unintended message oozing from Jane's bitter novelist, Lowe's divorced doctor, Piven's corrupt investment banker and McKay's broken romantic — all performances committed to anything but an ounce of empathy — is that vows to oneself made when young and stupidly idealistic are wonderfully convenient escape hatches when life goes south.
A fanfare for the common jerk that taints every '80s-era alt-rock soundtrack tune it touches, "I Melt With You" assuredly marks itself as one of 2011's most ludicrous releases.
"I Melt With You." MPAA rating: R for pervasive drug use and language, some violence and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes. At the Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles.