They really just don’t make stoner comedies like they used to, do they? Not since Harmony Korine’s weed-fueled romp The Beach Bum in 2019 has the subgenre felt creatively reinvigorated, and sadly this trend toward mediocrity continues with the Machine Gun Kelly vehicle Good Mourning. While it somehow manages to stumble upon genuine moments of absurdist humor, the film is far too disorganized and uninspired to effectively mine its rare comedic moments. Co-directed by Machine Gun Kelly (credited as Colson Baker) and fellow musician Mod Sun, Good Mourning lacks the fanbase allure and pandemic-induced creativity of the duo’s previous effort, last year’s Downfalls High. What’s perhaps most egregious, though, is the film’s constant reliance on corny, Family Guy-style cutaway jokes—which somehow feel staler than Seth MacFarlane’s dead horse, beaten now for an excruciating 20th season.
London Clash (the cheesy intra-movie moniker of Machine Gun Kelly) is a burgeoning Hollywood actor on the precipice of a major opportunity. His agent Maxine (Whitney Cummings) has secured him a script for a forthcoming Batman movie, but a text from his girlfriend Apple (Becky G) on the morning of his meeting with the prospective director totally shakes him up. “I wish I didn’t have to say this over text,” her first message reads. It’s shortly followed by a second text, which simply says “good mourning.”
After looking up the definition for the word “mourning” itself, London realizes this text might be a relationship send-off. Panicking over the prospect of losing Apple, London neglects his Batman duties to embark on a series of nonsensical escapades in order to track down his (potentially ex-) girlfriend and figure out what exactly her foreboding text is all about. Joining him on this journey are his various freeloading friends, with Mod Sun playing his blue-haired punk sidekick Dylan. Also included among London’s maladroit cohort are Leo (rapper GaTa, who also stars as a fictionalized version of himself in Dave), Angel (Zach Villa), new assistant Olive (former Disney Channel star Dove Cameron) and lesbian roommate Kennedy (MGK’s real-life partner Megan Fox, said to have inspired the film’s premise in the first place).
Good Mourning’s script is lackluster to its very core, predicated on a plot that’s so paltry that it struggles to carry the film over what should be a breezy 93-minute runtime. There is absolutely nothing compelling about the film’s characters, their motivations, or the results of their endeavors. It truly appears that the film was conceived as nothing more than a convenient excuse to get all of the filmmaker’s friends to goof off in front of a camera, which sounds about as appealing as any stoner friend group deciding to document their every obtuse (and broadly unfunny) observation. The idea that someone (and their entire extended friend group) is funny enough to merit an entire movie is insufferable enough on its face. For the ensuing film to then be so decidedly unfunny adds a superficial layer of psychic torment on top of it all. In the current barren wasteland that is the stoner comedy landscape, this laziness is nothing short of inexcusable.
While many of the players featured in Good Mourning are familiar with acting on film sets, it’s nonetheless evident that Machine Gun Kelly and Mod Sun were merely looking for an excuse to fill every frame of their film with their buddies’ faces—their respective talent and relevance to the narrative be damned. Most emblematic of the downfall of this practice is the inclusion of rapper Trippie Redd, who so clearly could not memorize lines or portray a character that he simply appears on-screen as himself, not even careful enough to resist looking directly into the camera (surely this is why his character dons dark sunglasses). In a film where a glut of recognizable pop culture figures play fictional characters—Amber Rose, Pete Davidson—Trippie Redd’s cameo feels like a friendly favor that could have easily been cut. In contrast, the cameos made by Dennis Rodman and Avril Lavigne might not have been expertly executed in their comedic potential, but they add a cheeky touch that is much more rooted in celebrity self-awareness than self-indulgence.
At the very least, Good Mourning is the kind of movie that you can lull yourself into stoned complacency over. Through hazy thoughts of “Wait, who’s that?” or “What just happened?”, you can be comforted by the fact that the absence of this information won’t affect your viewing experience in the long run. For a film so ill-conceived and plodding, it only makes sense for the audience to exert as little effort in watching it as the directors did in helming it. If you’re looking for an inconsequential way to spend an hour and a half, Good Mourning boasts familiar faces wandering aimlessly through a threadbare plot—perfect for half-watching while checking IMDb to identify the plethora of vapid celebrity visages.
Directors: Colson Baker, Mod Sun
Writers: Colson Baker, Mod Sun
Stars: Colson Baker, Mod Sun, Becky G, Megan Fox, Dove Cameron, GaTa, Zach Villa, Jenna Boyd, Pete Davidson
Release Date: May 20, 2022 (Open Road Films)
Natalia Keogan is a freelance film writer based in Queens, New York. Her work has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine, Paste Magazine and Blood Knife Magazine, among others. Find her on Twitter @nataliakeogan