You know what they say, "There's only one realm in HELL – the one where your ass burns for ETERNITY!" Or, at the very least, that's what the odd sign at the start of "What I Meant To Say Was…" will tell ya.
We have ended up in a "super specific" level of hell…level 2037, to be exact…the place where folks like Michael go after they die trying to send a text message while driving in traffic. Things move quickly in this movie as it begins; you'll spend precious few seconds beyond the credits in the land of the living before you're whisked off to hell in this Horror/Comedy combo. Poor Michael. It sure seemed like he had a lot to live for with his wonderful girlfriend named Lana, but everything changed forever in a single instant - before writer/director Gary Whorley takes you forward, though, he takes you back into the past to where it all started so that we get to see what Michael's missing out on.
It was an interesting first meeting between Lana and Michael, to say the least. The dude's carrying around a guitar, which you have to end up wondering if it's simply a smart gimmick to pick up girls, given that he can barely put together a quality chord or a note you'd wanna listen to. From there, we spend our time in between the land of the dead and the land of the living, in the present, and through flashbacks to the origin of the relationship now destroyed. You'll also see Lana trying to figure out her life going forward while Mike is trying to figure out some way to communicate with her & send out that last text message.
As if hell wasn't gonna be tough enough, Michael's got the extra burden of Chang in his AC/DC shirt, essentially the devil's imp & host of the underworld, to help him acclimatize to this unfamiliar realm, and he's not exactly the most helpful. To his credit, Michael seems to not really be all that concerned by the fact that he's dead so much as he just wants to make sure his final message to Lana gets sent out somehow. He's clearly a very 'go with the flow' type of personality…being dead has hardly shocked him at all. You'd figure it'd take some getting used to, but Michael seems to take it in stride immediately.
Anyhow… let's see here. I think the reddish tint to the scenes shot in hell was a smart visual move. I like the crudeness of the dialog, even if I didn't always find the content to be as funny as advertised. There are noteworthy moments that hit the mark, like meeting Chlamydia (Carmeletta) or discussing Michael's soft dick, but admittedly, even at its best, the dialog of this movie still relies heavily on its potential shock value & never really seems to find a natural flow. Which is a bit on the strange side in a way…I didn't really feel like the acting was off so much as the cadence of the script just seemed to struggle to find a true fluidity that worked. The best scenes you'll find in that regard probably exist between Lana and Michael in the flashbacks we see. Lana tends to bring out the best in Michael's character, but in the natural pace of the movie too; she gives "What I Meant To Say Was…" the life it deserved. Without her onscreen, the rest seems to become a bit flat and veers towards deadpan jokes & lewd commentary, which is fine, but it seems to lack the spark that Lana (Zoe Scarborough) brought to the screen. This could also be purposeful given the setting of the scenes surrounding their relationship are all set in hell - where things aren't exactly supposed to be all that much fun, but the effect is ultimately the same. It's harder for us to have fun with the movie - and when they're in the land of the dead, we feel that lifelessness perhaps more than Whorley might have been intending. In general, without us knowing what the crucial nature of this text message could possibly be or why Michael feels like he needs to send it so badly after he's dead, it feels like we're mired in a very long setup to one big punch line in the conclusion of this movie. A restlessness begins to ensue as we watch, and the question becomes whether or not it'll be worth it once we get to the great reveal, and will that message be as monumental as the setup? I can confirm it'll be different than you think.
What else can I tell you about here - let's see, let's see. I really liked how during one of the movie's most serious and effective moments of drama/dialog, where Carmeletta is revealing her biggest regret, you're also hearing smart details added to the background, like the constant screaming that you'd associate with hell. It's a subtle addition, but it made me laugh every time. This ragtag group of three cohorts in Carmeletta, Michael, and Chang actually works pretty well, and mid-movie, you feel like "What I Meant To Say Was…" starts to find its strengths. As for the running gag of Michael Chang…well…I wish this film the best of luck with that – it made me chuckle a little, but I'm already super old, and you'd have to be even older than I am to appreciate that joke. It's going to be a very tough sell to the millennials. Other randomness, like Lana's band Ooze Goddess, seemed pretty kickass – and I would have liked to hear 'em actually play instead of just argue! Solid political commentary from Carmeletta in there if you're paying close attention - all-in-all, Chlamydia is really what this film needed down below, just like Lana is up top. Bonus points for the "Deliverance" reference…that was one of my favorite laughs in this whole movie.
So, let's be real here." What I Meant To Say Was…" is a very loose idea, and you feel it drag as you're watching this movie. It's built more to deliver cleverly crude lines and characters than a storyline, but the plot is still tangible enough to keep you watching even if you're not rolling in the aisles laughing. Horny is great & I loved the twist on the character of the devil you'll find there. For a Horror/Comedy, in many ways, this movie is much more of a Comedy/Drama by the time it's all over. I'll say this…" What I Meant To Say Was…" finds an unexpected level of heart to its story in the finale, and it's because of that that you get a really satisfying ending that actually feels as good as it is conclusive. Make sure you stick around through the credits too! You'll notice a familiar face pop up from "Mallrats" fame in a clever cameo that comes straight from hell, in addition to a few other folks you might just recognize as well. Maybe. "What I Meant To Say Was…" ends up providing some of its biggest laughs after the movie has technically finished, so stay tuned. I'm giving this film three stars out of five for being just enough fun.