Everything about Fifty Pills is collegiate, from its subject matter to the first-feature disjointedness of the writing, performance, and editing. Too many of the jokes have already been done, including a sub-Porky's masturbation scene, and tend to treat the not-very-naughty shock of a dominatrix as being laugh-out-loud subversive. For most of the humorous characters, the actors rely on lead-footed hammy theatrics to get their point across. This never works except with the performance of Eddie Kaye Thomas; director Theo Avgerinos seemingly left the camera running to let him pontificate with absolute absurdity as a Diff'rent Strokes-obsessed ecstasy freak. His scenes are successful because he lends his character an unpredictable and menacing air that gives his interactions with Darren (Lou Taylor Pucci) some dramatic tension and thrust lacking in the other throwaway sequences. Despite the largely lackluster comedy, the three main characters are engaging and give the film's university setting an original big-city angle. Pucci is an appealing performer who strikes the right mixture of suburban naïveté, improvisational street smarts, and offbeat charm appropriate for a freshman in New York with charming chemistry opposite the equally likeable Kristin Bell. The friend-or-foe relationship with Coleman is done well too, with John Hensley giving his typically charismatic and devious party animal character a faux-sophisticate Eurotrash slickness. But, however likable the characters, the situations are too uninspired, the comedy's timing too off, and the druggy subtext too underexploited to give Fifty Pills' high-jinx the intelligent sophomoric jolt it needs.
by Michael Buening review