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.
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.
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.