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(2004) ** 1/2 R
92 min. DreamWorks. Directors: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, Dave Mandel (II). Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Lucy Lawless.

Right from its animated title sequence, Eurotrip announces itself as a party movie chock full of sex, booze, and rock and roll. It's R-rated, but sure to be the latest coolest movie amongst the high school crowd, and they could do worse for a dumb comedy. The appealing young leads can act better than their '80s sex-comedy equivalents, and Ivan Reitman stamps the irreverence with his seal of approval. Every time Eurotrip trips, it bounces back with a funny line, an amusingly surreal gag, or an answer (sometimes even a wholesome one) to one of many offensive moments.

In a move so cynical it's a joke in itself, Eurotrip (billed as being "From the producers of Road Trip and Old School") mashes together the plots of Road Trip and Old School. Director Jeff Schaffer (who co-scripted with Alec Berg & David Mandel) primarily casts economical unknowns and redresses Prague as the entirety of Europe for an enterprisingly fleet 92 minutes. Schaffer, Berg, and Mandel, before penning the screenplay for The Cat in the Hat, wrote for Seinfeld, so they know their way around gags of both the clever and gut-level varieties.

Scott Mechlowicz plays Scott Thomas, a square looking to break out of his born-loser rut. At his high-school graduation, he gets dumped, brusquely, by Kristin Kreuk (TV's Smallville). Adding insult to injury, the punk rocker with whom she's been cheating—played in a surprising cameo by a well-known leading man—shows up that night at a kegger to sing his ode to screwing Scott over, called "Scotty Doesn't Know." Later, in a drunken haze, Scotty accidentally dumps a beautiful German girl who claims Scotty may be "the one." When she blocks Scotty's email, there's nothing for it but a...Eurotrip! (Guess Scotty never thought of using another email account. Huh.)

Anyway, Scotty's buddy Cooper (Jacob Pitts, unmistakeably a latter-day David Spade) is along for the ride, and the two eventually hook up with "the worst twins ever," Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg, late of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and her anal-retentive brother Jamie (Travis Wester). Don't expect cultural sensitivity from Eurotrip, which kicks off in London with Vinnie Jones (Scotty's two words: "Soccer hooligans."); stops in Germany to witness a little boy cheerily drawing on a Hitler 'stache, pumping his arm, and goosestepping; and winds up by barn-burning the Vatican and "killing" the Pope. I suppose if they play this in Europe, they'll restore the working title: "The Ugly Americans." What is it they say about not laughing with you, but at you?

But for every three tasteless gags about incest or butt-rape or horny men at nude beaches (whose penises wag as if to say, "Who will dare to complain about our gratuitous boob shots now?!"), the writers roll out a genuinely funny joke, like a detour through, horror of horrors, Eastern Europe, where Rade Sherbedgia mercilessly mocks his own typecasting as the dissolute European Everyman (and tosses off the outdated '80s pop culture references just reaching town, like "Where's the beef?"). David Hasselhoff is wittily inserted at a riotously inappropriate moment, an American teenager has a showdown with a French robot street mime, and Vinnie Jones helps to turn Sheena Easton's "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" into a "soccer hooligan" sing-along. That's enough for a marginal recommendation right there.

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