AFI Fest 2012
By Don Simpson | November 8, 2012
Director: Drew Denny
Writer: Drew Denny
Starring: Drew Denny, Sarah Hagan
Andy’s (Drew Denny) father has recently died; she has enlisted Liv (Sarah Hagan) to be her co-pilot on a drive across the Southwestern United States. En route from Los Angeles to Austin, the two childhood friends stop at one picturesque location after another to scatter his ashes. Liv seems to take the task at hand much more seriously than Andy, but that is partially because as an actress she is more expressive. However, it is not that Andy is not mourning the death of her father, she just handles grief very differently than Liv. Unwilling (or possibly unable) to discuss her feelings, Andy turns to laughter and silliness, as if trying to distract herself from the pain.
As we spend more time with Andy and Liv, we learn several other differing personality traits of these two female characters. Andy is outgoing and a risk-taker, often playing the role of the token “bad girl”; while Liv is more of an innocent wallflower who would prefer to wait in their car while Andy mingles with locals. Additionally, Liv is extremely close with her mother, whom she talks with seemingly every day; Andy, on the other hand, dreads the thought of ever having to speak with her mother.
As writer-director Drew Denny’s The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had With My Pants On explores Andy and Liv’s differing personalities, it becomes increasingly evident how they alternately feed and agitate each other. Sometimes they are able to push each other to break free of their normal behavior; other times their differing approaches to life incite conflicts. The striking landscapes of the Southwest (captured by Will Basanta’s impeccably lush cinematography) emerge as adult-sized playgrounds for Andy and Liv, as the two friends turn to the unadulterated freedom of childish playfulness to temporarily escape from the anxieties of adult life.
One of those anxieties is an inherent sexual tension between the two friends as they contend with gender politics and social conventions. Andy and Liv each push the boundaries of gender in their own unique ways. Neither of them are shy about co-opting male traits to take control of situations whenever necessary. The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had With My Pants On blurs the definitions of gender roles and sexual orientation, just as “good girl” and “bad girl” are intertwined; as I see it, Andy and Liv each exist at different points along the rainbow of sexuality, and those points may or may not be fixed. Denny purposefully showcases two female characters who are completely free from the confines of romantic relationships, specifically boyfriends; and it is not as if Andy and Liv are pining over whom they want to date either. During their few interactions with males, Andy and Liv always maintain full control — there are always boundaries to their flirtations, no always means no.
From my male perspective, female friendship can sometimes seem like a strange and untameable beast; and Denny’s unique strength as a writer-director is in being able to transform this beast into a narrative. One major frictional force within the plot is whether or not Andy and Liv will ever open up to each other and discuss their inner most feelings, like true friends presumably would. As they contend with their own unique existential dilemmas, this road trip allows Andy and Liv to explore the notions and motions of life, death and friendship. There is nothing simple about human existence; life can get really confusing and frustrating, but there are also those moments of beauty and happiness that make it all worthwhile.
The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had With My Pants On is a novel hybrid of autobiography and fiction that was penned while Denny was caring for her dying father. Not only does Denny serve as producer, director, writer and star, but she also contributes several songs to the very impressive indie pop/folk soundtrack.