‘Naked’ is a ‘Groundhog Day’ riff that should have stayed underground

In Netflix’s new original comedy Naked, Marlon Wayans plays Rob Anderson, a substitute teacher about to get married to the love of his life. Unfortunately, the morning of his wedding, he gets cold feet. And cold everything else, because he wakes up naked in a hotel elevator. Embarrassed and confused, Rob sets out trying to figure out what happened, how he got there, and where the hell his clothes are. Unfortunately, after a series of comic misadventures… he wakes up naked in a hotel elevator again. On the morning of his wedding, again. Yes, it’s Groundhog Day but with more bare ass.

Rob soon realizes he’s trapped in a loop, reliving this same day over and over until he can get it right and walk his true love down the aisle.

It takes a lot of balls to so nakedly rip off one of the best comedies of all time, but Naked ultimately proves to be surprisingly toothless. Given the nudity inherent in the concept, this is a flick that seems ideally suited for the “raunch with a dose of heart” approach that Judd Apatow and company have made so much money off of in recent years. Naked, however, plays it very safe. You’ll get the occasional semi-blue joke, and some PG-13 swearing, but for the most part Naked is the sort of flick a church group would screen one night if they were feeling particularly frisky.

netflix naked review Screengrab via Netflx/YouTube

Which is totally fine, if that’s the sort of movie Naked wanted to be, but the film seems deeply confused about that question. Most of the material is played either over-the-top goofy or painfully earnest, but then every once in awhile it tries to swing back toward the rawer comedy you’d expect from… well, from a movie called Naked. I spent the entire length of this film trying to get a grasp on who exactly it was for, and I’m still not sure. It’s an adaptation of a 2000 Swedish film, so perhaps those cultural origins are responsible for the dissonance between tone and concept, but this movie just feels weird. And not in a David Lynch way. It’s like one of those Magic Eye posters from the ‘90s, where if you can just find the right angle to focus your eyes, suddenly the hidden image becomes clear. Suffice to say, that angle continues to elude me with Naked.

That ‘90s reference isn’t randomly chosen, either. For a film about time travel, it’s weirdly appropriate that Naked feels like a movie released a couple of decades too late. From the look to the style of humor to the soundtrack, everything about Naked seems as if it was pulled through time from about 1997. Especially the soundtrack, which somehow manages to be both irritating and forgettable at the same time. If you’d hired the most talented composer on the planet and asked him to create the soundtrack for a mid-’90s Nickelodeon original film that was never released on DVD and no one remembers, this is what he would have come up with.

netflix naked review Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

All of which could be overcome if Naked was funny, but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong: My grandmother might think it was funny. My church youth pastor would probably think it was a hoot, and then use it in a sermon to complain about how Hollywood never makes family films like this anymore (just a shame about those potty words, though). But Naked is continuously sabotaged by its own weak script and the identity crisis of not wanting to commit to either fully PG or more edgy. It’s a mess. The funniest moment in the entire movie came after my wife complained that it was like a greatest hits compilation of the worst elements of the 1990s, and then C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” immediately came on the soundtrack.

For a movie about a guy reliving the same events over and over, Naked ultimately proves to completely forgettable. Rewatch Groundhog Day instead. Hell, rewatch the Groundhog Day trailer for 90 minutes, if it comes to that.

David Wharton

David Wharton

David Wharton is a journalist and film critic with over 15 years of experience. His reviews for the Daily Dot focus on original movies and series produced by streaming entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. He lives in Texas, where he works as the online editor of DSNews.com