Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Amy Heckerling has always been one of the more colourful female personalities in the entertainment business. ‘Vamps’ is no different from her past works in the sense that you definitely catch the wit and wisdom prevalent in her classic movies like ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’. Unfortunately, the sum of parts that make up ‘Vamps’ doesn't quite come together as a whole package.
The film is centred around two vampires, Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter) who live a socialite (think ‘Gossip Girl’) lifestyle in modern day New York City. Goody has been a vamp since 1843 after being turned into one by the vampire queen Ciccerus. She struggled with it until Stacy was turned into one as well in the 1990s. When Stacy and Goody both begin relationships with human counterparts, they must decide if being young forever is truly the good life.
The movie has a playful vibe that doesn't take itself seriously; it's so un-serious that the very trait may have become a flaw of its own design. The writers have some fun with troupes and clichés of the vampire genre – references to garlic, crosses and daylight, they're all present.
In fact, Stacy's boyfriend in the movie has Van Helsing for a family name – his dad's a vampire hunter, which sets up a pretty interesting conflict and dynamic between them. Through Goody's long life, the film attempts to tackle the theme of aging; Goody's character has a particular distaste for the smartphone touting, club hopping lifestyle of this generation and her sense of nostalgia pervades almost every part of the film.
On one hand, ‘Vamps’ has a totally campy non-seriousness that sees the vampires depicted as almost ordinary people who end up being in cheesy cartoonish situations all the time but at the same time, Heckerling and her crew are attempting to tackle the rather sensitive theme of aging.
For the latter, the campy tone and acting in the movie hinders the delivery of the message more than it helps. The message is robbed of any power or punch it had and instead becomes nothing more than a sideshow attraction of the movie.
And while humour is a very subjective thing, the movie's tone can only be described as hit and miss. There are some funny moments in here but there are also long lulls in between laughs and none of the chuckles can be described as memorable or of the pain inducing variety.
At times, the movie feels like a television programme– either a sitcom or a whole stretch of sketches about two girls with very old pop culture references thrown together. It's cute... but funny would be a stretch. The editing of the movie doesn't help either. Many of the jokes could have benefitted from a pause or two to let them sink in for the viewer. Often the quips are fired at such a fast pace that by the time you're ready to laugh, the dialogue has gone to a completely different place that you just can't laugh anymore.
Though it's very ambitious and has its own modest charms, ‘Vamps’ can only be described as a bloody mess. It's bold but the punchlines don't work very often and the one-liners/campy sight gags do get old after a while.
There isn't much of an emotional pull as well. However, Ritter and Silverstone are cute performers who have a strong synergy on screen that really parlays well with the squeaky sweet vibe of the movie. However, this flick about vampires could have really used some bite in both the humour and emotional department.