Charlie (Paul Wesley) is a successful motivational speaker with a best-selling book and a series of seminars around the topic of redirecting sexual energy in The Late Bloomer. He seems to have no interest in sex and so, because he doesn’t fit into a societal stereotype, people assume he’s gay, though he’s not. He just isn’t interested. Then one day he takes a shot to the junk and the doctors find that, because of a brain tumor, he’s never gone through puberty.
Removing the tumor sends him at age 30 on a quick journey down a road most of us travel in over the course of a few years in our teens. That leads to all kinds of awkward situations, including with his neighbor Michelle (Brittany Snow), who has a crush on him that he’s never been in a situation to requite. Now, though, he’s having sexual thoughts one after the other and that’s leading to encounters with her and others that he’s not quite ready for, though his body is trying to lunge all over the place. Let’s see how this sex comedy was sold.
The one-sheet is really working hard to sell the movie in as unsubtle a way as possible. So it predominantly shows Simmons in bed wearing really conservative pajamas as he looks up toward where there’s a lady standing over him, presumably wearing very little. We can tell and assume because all we see are her legs. The copy tells us this is “Based on the (mostly) true story of the 30-year old who just hit puberty.
It really looks like the studio is trying to position the movie in the same vein as The 40-Year Old Virgin. While the core premises might be somewhat similar, this is pretty outright, not necessarily based on that movie’s poster but on the whole attitude and vibe.
The next poster is pretty basic and not all that funny. In fact it comes off as kind of boring. Simmons and Snow are in the bottom of the image, him looking super-excited and her looking a little shocked, both presumably reacting to the revelation that’s spelled out in the copy explaining he’s a 30 year old who’s just now going through puberty. At the top is a lineup of the supporting cast, all wearing goofy expressions since these photos are just pulled from production stills.
We meet Charlie in the trailer as he’s on stage at a seminar selling his book about how putting the energy that’s otherwise expended on pursuing sexual impulses to other uses can change your life. That’s a pursuit his father isn’t thrilled with and Charlie seems to lack much of a sex drive at all, something that makes for awkward dates and the perception from others that he’s gay. When he’s injured while playing basketball the doctor finds a benign tumor pressing against his pituitary gland has kept puberty from ever happening. Removing the tumor sends his body into overdrive as it tries to fit all of puberty into a few months, leading to awkward encounters any time there’s an opportunity for him to be sexually aroused, a face full of massive zits and more hilarity.
It’s legitimately funny, even if there’s nothing approaching great filmmaking on display here. It’s a sex comedy, pure and simple, and takes advantage of the subject matter to engage in all kinds of junior high locker room humor and situations. If you’re a fan of erection jokes, or if you just enjoy seeing J.K. Simmons growl disapprovingly on screen, this will be up your alley.
A red band trailer was released just a week or so before the movie was scheduled to come out. There’s a lot of the same material from the original trailer, but with a few additional scenes featuring some (mildly) explicit sexual conversation and content. So we see Charlie’s friends get a stripper and in particular the friend played by Kumail Nanjiani gets a lot of raunchy material.
Online and Social
The only online presence for the movie seems to be this Facebook page, where the studio shared GIFs, short videos, production and behind-the-scenes stills and a bit more. There seems to have been an emphasis on tying it to the real guy whose story provided inspiration for the movie as well. In particular he’s the “host” for the cast to talk about their own puberty experiences in a series of faux newscasts.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’m aware of, though considering this is hitting VOD this weekend I would expect there to be some online advertising at least done closer to release.
Media and Publicity
A first look still in Entertainment Weekly was the first shot fired in the publicity campaign. Outside of that, there doesn’t seem to have been much in the press outside of the release of the posters, trailers and other marketing material.
OK, nothing too innovative or groundbreaking here. The studio knows it has a sophomoric sex comedy on its hands and so is doing what it can to lean into that. So the campaign plays up the juxtaposition of all of these life events that are totally normal at 12 or 13 years old happening to someone who’s 30. That premise provides the basis for much, if not all, the comedy on display here.
But the movie looks very slight. Like it’s a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that’s been stretched from six minutes to an hour and a half. That doesn’t mean it can’t be funny – there are a few genuine laughs on display in the trailer – but it does mean that the one joke may not be enough to sustain the whole thing. Either that or there’s more to the movie than what’s on display here, which is a genuine possibility.