The concept of a 30-year-old man finally hitting puberty would seem to be rife with comic possibilities. But while it might have produced riotous results in the hands of a Judd Apatow or Seth Rogen, director Kevin Pollak and his team of five — count ’em, five — screenwriters fumble the ball with their tiresomely juvenile take on the true-life tale. Notable only for its estimable cast, The Late Bloomer suffers from premature comic ejaculation.
Loosely based on the memoir by E! News personality Ken Baker, the story concerns Dr. Peter Newmans (Johnny Simmons) — the punning name presumably had them howling in the writers’ room — a psychotherapist and best-selling author whose specialty is weening people from sex addiction. Peter, something of an expert on the subject of chastity, has never had sex or even an erection himself, much to the befuddlement of not only him but his friends and family.
This sex comedy fails to rise to the occasion.
When he’s accidentally hit in the groin during a basketball game, Peter discovers the reason for his undeveloped genitalia. The culprit is a tumor in his pituitary gland, and after surgery to remove it he becomes, yes, a new man. In this case it involves, among other things: compulsive masturbation, a really nasty case of acne and an embarrassing episode in which his voice keeps cracking during a radio interview.
Peter’s best friends Luke (Beck Bennett) and Rich (Kumail Nanjiani) — the former fulfilling the necessity in a sex comedy for a randy, horndog character — provide sarcastic commentary about his situation. His New-Agey mom (Maria Bello) and uptight dad (J.K. Simmons) are delighted to see their boy finally grow up, with the latter particularly proud when he sees his son sporting a giant erection (“He could put an eye out with that thing!”).
Peter’s eagerness to road-test his new masculinity results in a series of not terribly funny misadventures involving willing women, and his previously chaste relationship with his beautiful next-door neighbor (Brittany Snow) suddenly takes on new dimensions.
Lead actor Johnny Simmons fits his role perfectly, his baby face giving him the suitable appearance of an overgrown adolescent. But the smutty, tired material with which he has to work is surprisingly devoid of laughs. It lets him down as well as such supporting players as Jane Lynch, Laraine Newman, Illeana Douglas and Brian Doyle-Murray. J.K. Simmons and Bello do manage to have some fun with their stereotypical roles, but they seem way too overqualified for their assignments.
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Production companies: Eclectic Pictures, Ineffable Pictures
Cast: Johnny Simmons, Maria Bellow, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley
Director: Kevin Pollak
Screenwriters: Joe Nussbaum, Mark Torgove, Paul A. Kaplan, Kyle Cooper, Austyn Jeffs
Producers: Jesse Israel, Raffi Kryszek, Heidi Jo Markel
Executive producers: Ken Baker, Elizabeth Costa de Beauregard Rose, Paul A. Kaplan, Lonnie Ramati, Sebastian Serrell-Watts, Les Weldon
Director of photography: Akis Konstantakopoulos, Stelio Pissas
Production designers: Eve McCarney, Antonello Rubino
Editor: Adam Beamer
Composer: Walter Murphy
Casting: Blyth Nailling, Marianne Stanicheva
Rated R, 90 minutes