“Eternity: The Movie” is a satire in search of a target, the cinematic manifestation of a sarcastic teenager’s yearning to make fun of something, anything, whatever’s lying around. The various bullseyes of director Ian Thorpe’s dramatic eye-rolling end up being aspiring musicians, male friendships, and a vague concept of “the 80s” that encompasses sax solos, blue eye shadow, Tab soda, and AIDS panic.
Too earnest to be satisfyingly arch and too scattered to succeed as parody, Thorpe’s goofy musical comedy only manages a sporadic charm through the occasional bon mot or a madcap flight of fancy. More often, the film leans repeatedly on the same unfunny joke, like the homoerotic main characters’ employment at a discount-clothing store called “BJ Maxx,” or, more egregiously, merely alludes to a Reagan-era artifact for a lazy “look at that thing we used to like back then” laugh.
In its portrait of the 80s as a cesspool of mediocrity, “Eternity” chronicles in VHS-like graininess the rags-to-record deal tale of a Wham!-like duo of two teen heartthrobs in mesh shirts and feathered hair. (In a cleverly absurd nod to George Michael, the cute one of the two sports a cross earring as long as a finger.)
The similarly endowed-with-two-first-names Todd Lucas (Barrett Crake), a Pollyanna-ish transplant to LA from Omaha, forms a R&B twosome called Eternity with obnoxious saxophonist B.J. (Myko Olivier); no relation to the store, except that’s where he and Todd first meet.
The “laugh at the dummies” orientation of the humor makes it difficult to care about their journey toward minor fame, but Todd and B.J. do share a surprisingly complicated friendship based on mutual anxieties about women and professional success. (That nearly everyone around them assumes they’re gay doesn’t bother them in the least.)
Todd tries to raise his buddy’s sexual confidence through one of the film’s best satirical lines (“We should be afraid of ninjas, not women!”), while the scheming B.J. pushes ill-advised flings onto Todd, knowing that heartbreak fuels songwriting creativity.
During one of the film’s campy highlights, Todd is musically inspired by a date gone really, really bad: the girl falls into a creek and apparently drowns while he stands by and croons about it. Todd’s loneliness is best expressed in their one hit song, “I Want to Make Love, Not Just Sex,” which ends with the words, “Boobies, boobies, boobies, breasssssstttt. Breast!” The lads do protest too much; no wonder everyone thinks they’re gay.
But these descriptions make “Eternity” sound like far less of a drag than it actually is; some of the stretches between the gags that work extend rather long. And when the actually talented songwriter Gina Marie (Nikki Leonti) comes between the two bandmates, their love triangle literalized in an orgy during the one part of the movie that seems true to life, it’s not just Eternity that seems to be over, but the film’s stamina, too.
The amateurish lead performance by Crake adds to the camp factor in early scenes, but becomes more of a drawback as the film increasingly forgets whether it’s a bad 80s movie aimed at undiscerning teens or a lampoon thereof. But the party lies in the parody. When the proceedings (mostly) go straight, no amount of bodacious boobage or ironic piano scarves are gonna convince us that we’re having fun anymore.