syrup

There is a persistent theme throughout Syrup, the notion that sex sells and that the young image-obsessed public will virtually do anything for a little piece of fame. It’s fitting that in a movie focusing on the terrible realities of mass marketing would be high on style, and dangerously low on substance.

Syrup, directed by Aram Rappaport, is the story of a young business school grad, Scat (Shiloh Fernandez), who is just waiting for his big break into the marketing industry. Scat is not his real name. But he’ll never tell you his real one; he learned in business school that the ticket to success is crafting an expert personal image, a value shared by his roommate Sneaky Pete (Kellan Lutz). Sneaky Pete has taken this to the next level by choosing to never speak again after a bout of laryngitis. Ladies love the mystery.

Scat has a million-dollar idea when standing in his grungy living room for a revolutionary new energy drink. A jet black can emblazoned with the word “FUKK.” Get it, sex sells? He is obsessed with getting his idea to the top ad executive in the city, an impossibly beautiful and poised woman named 6 (Amber Heard). 6 is a legend for the impenetrable image she has crafted; nobody knows the real details of her life, but here’s what they know: she lives in Times Square with a girlfriend nobody has ever seen, she answers to no one, and her name is 6 because her parents renamed her according to age on every birthday. They both died in a tragic plane accident on the eve of her sixth.

For some reason, 6 absolutely loves Scat’s energy drink idea, and the two start a partnership that takes them through every up and down conceivable in the marketing world – even, at times, love (girlfriend in Times Square be damned). But as they soon discover, you can’t trust anyone in that industry, ESPECIALLY a guy who calls himself Sneaky Pete.

syrup_promo_fukk

Let’s talk about Sneaky Pete. He doesn’t speak. Kellan Lutz has a blast kicking back and working on his best smirk as the plot unfolds around him. He has the best deal out of anyone, a prominent character who is frequently talked about, without having to do any of his own talking. It’s amusing to see Sneaky Pete’s entourage scramble to speak for him, but it also loses some of its shtick when 6 and Scat are yelling at an enemy who doesn’t respond.

As Scat, Shiloh Fernandez is a formidable protagonist, but it’s hard to find yourself rooting for him to succeed. You really want to, but there’s nothing redeemable about his character. He whines about love, about loss, about Sneaky Pete (oh god, so much about Sneaky Pete), and about not being handed success. You chose this business, buddy. Amber Heard is wonderful as 6, a no-nonsense executive who cultures the precise amount of sex and severity to captivate her colleagues. Though her manufactured backstory is silly, you hate to admit it’s effective.

There is not much to say for substance in the plot line, which often falls as flat as that energy drink looks. It relies heavily on Scat’s narrator to explain what’s happening in snappy dialogue, rather than showing, and it proves to be distracting. There are only so many times that Scat and 6 can band together to take on the marketing world, struggle, and triumph before the formula gets old – and the movie isn’t even two hours long. Overall, Syrup is as sickly sweet as its name, and may leave you wishing you hadn’t imbibed.

Syrup premieres June 7th