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Normal Adolescent Behavior (Unrated)
DVD disk
10.24.2007 By: Jason Adams
Normal Adolescent Behavior (Unrated) order
Director:
Beth Schacter

Actors:
Amber Tamblyn
Kelli Garner
Ashton Holmes

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A group of six teenage friends form an exclusive clique built around complete openness, non-conformity and, once a week, casual sex with each other. Everything is fine and dandy in their little “family,” until a new guy moves in next door and throws a major kink in to their arrangement.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Apparently, I hung out with the wrong people in high school.

Part ethnography, part cautionary tale, NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR is an eye opening movie, mainly because it feels rather realistic—which in turn makes it scary as hell. For one, the kids look and act like high schoolers. (No thirty years olds here!) The cast also has lots of talent and great chemistry together. When they sit around just talking it feels very natural and when they then move to more promiscuous activities it almost feels like a normal extension of their friendship, not some condemnable dirty act. You can also thank writer/director Beth Schacter for bringing a sense of maturity to the film. The teens are portrayed in a non clichéd manner; they’re smart, school leaders, don’t drink or do drugs, and compared to the other partying kids shown in the movie, they’re fairly tame. And while the subject matter is risqué, the content isn’t exploitive (though Amber Tamblyn getting spanked is pretty hot.) There’s no nudity, save for a case or two of side boob. In fact, this “Unrated” version already aired pretty much uncut on the Lifetime network last month.

While the above factors all work in NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR’s favor, I just didn’t find the movie all that entertaining. About halfway through things began to feel stale and it never really recovered. Some scenes go on way too long, reveling in the teenage angsty-ness, while other supporting arcs get shafted, like the pointless “MILF next door” subplot. Maybe the biggest crime is that, aside from Amber Tamblyn and Kelli Garner, the rest of the group isn’t fleshed out enough. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between any of the three guys, as their characters just bled together. And where are the kids’ parents? Their convenient absence throughout feels awkward and the relationship between them and the teens feels like a missed opportunity.

If my friends’ younger siblings (or MySpace) is any indication, I have no doubt that high school is a very, let’s say, different place than when I was there (which wasn’t all that long ago). In that regards NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR is a timely film and the setup works well; it just didn’t capitalize on it enough to make it a great movie. Although it did show me enough that I will have gotten a vasectomy by the time you read this.
THE EXTRAS
There is absolutely no reason that NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR should carry the retarded moniker HAVOC 2 and I thus refuse to acknowledge it. The movie has nothing to do with HAVOC and I don’t even remember that Direct-to-DVD flick being successful or compelling enough that you would want to capitalize on its name. (Except for naked Anne Hathaway.) This is just an all-out lame move by New Line.

Friends With Benefits (14:02): This Making Of feature mostly reveals the vibe on set. I was surprised the cast didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know each other before filming, as they have lots of chemistry together.

Deleted Scenes (13:45): A little more angst and thankfully some resolution to the Kelly Lynch-MILF subplot.

What’s in the Box: Character Profiles: In the movie, each of the friends has a box that holds unique mementos that reflect their personal lives. Thankfully, Kelli Garner’s features pictures of her in her underwear.

There’s also some DVD-ROM content, but it requires software installed.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Chalk this up to a missed opportunity. NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR had a lot going for it initially but never amounted to anything that great. However, parents with teenage children should consider watching this with them to see their reaction. If they start to guiltily squirm in their seats, lock them in the house until they’re in their mid-twenties.

Extra Tidbit: Amber Tamblyn’s brother in the movie (the MILF lover) is Daryl Sabara…the kid from SPY KIDS. Okay, now I feel old.
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