As "Zero to Hero" comedies go, this is one of the strangest -- and one of the most irresponsible. Michael may not be living his best life, but at least he's got some integrity. Which means that the lesson here seems to be to break out of your rut and embrace irresponsibility with drugs, alcohol, violence, and random hook-ups. It's certainly not the first film to take this approach: The Hangover, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and even The Graduate revolve around similar premises. What those films had going for them, though, is that they're legitimately hilarious and/or examples of excellent filmmaking, and Drunk Bus offers only a few guffaws. Plus, those films are funny because viewers understand that the characters' outlandish behavior is wrong, but this movie doesn't carry the same weight. Michael's antics under Pineapple's guidance may all come across as reasonable to the college crowd, and the "based on a true story" label suggests that Michael's iffy behavior leads to a positive outcome. As viewed by teens, Drunk Bus requires extremely critical thought, since Michael's route to self-discovery could just as easily be portrayed as his downfall.
Traditionally underrepresented groups are featured in supporting roles; there are AAPI, disabled, and LGBTQ+ characters. But few of these portrayals are actually positive. Women are all sexual objects, and their sexuality is the butt of the joke. A disabled character's failing mental health is a running gag. And Pineapple is recognizably a version of the problematic character type known as the "magical Negro" -- i.e., a wise character of color who exists only to help a White character achieve a goal. Here, Pineapple is actually a negative influence, but he's positioned as positive. Yes, we learn there's more to Pineapple than meets the eye, and a critical thinker may realize that his behavior has likely caused problems in his life, but it's not overtly clear. And, utlimately, even if we are to realize that Michael's choices under Pineapple's tutelage are poor ones, he does accomplish the personal growth he needs to move forward in life. For the viewers of this tepid comedy, the laugh is on us.