Review Date: November 22, 2005
Director: Arie Posin
Writer: Zac Stanford
Producers: Lawrence Bender, Bonnie Curtis
Jamie Bell as Dean
Camilla Belle as Crystal
Rita Wilson as Terri
A suburban teen finds a good friend hanging from a rope and spends the rest of the film attempting to get back some drugs that his friend apparently owed some kids at school…before he decided to kill himself. What ensues is a bunch of disconnected parents ignoring their kids, while most of the kids act idiotic and self-centered. Kinda like real life??
I’m not sure what this movie was trying to accomplish, whether it simply wanted to entertain, whether it believed it had a much deeper message within its superficial exterior, whether all of its name stars would distract the audience from anything that it was actually trying to convey or whether it was simply an exercise in “indie style”, but for the life of me, after a little over an hour a half with these people and their so-called “existence”, I really couldn’t make heads or tails of the film’s purpose and ultimately…I just didn’t care! (and remember, kids…indifference is the opposite of “love”, not “hate) That’s not to say that this is a “bad movie” per se, but it simply doesn’t work as it tries to be quirky, serious, funny, deep, moody, existential, clever and so many more things, at the same time…which is a hard thing to do. I wish the filmmakers would have stuck to one or two chords throughout, instead of showing the parents as complete idiots, entirely disconnected with their children, while at the same time, attempting to have us care about some of the kids, who are seemingly caught in the angst of their time. But to be honest with you, even the kids didn’t really “work” for me. I guess I’ve never been able to feel sorry for, or give half a shit about, spoiled upper-middle class brats who decide to get into pills or stupid behavior simply because…well, their lives are fulfilled and they’re bored! There’s one storyline in the film that features a child dealing with the suicide of his friend, which sorta works, but it’s lost in a sea of other lame-ass deviations including the perky Rita Wilson getting married, Ralph Fiennes showing up as a messed-up mayor who inexplicably likes dolphins (I didn’t get his character at all!), the hot chick from THE MATRIX acting like the babe in the “Stacey’s Mom” music video, Lauren Holly parading around as a wedding planner and most everyone just acting…well, “indie-quirky”.
It also does a horrible job of balance, as one very serious sequence featuring the stabbing of a 13-year old boy doesn’t work as it attempts to make it somewhat “funny” at the same time. Not a good move. Being as this film played at the Sundance Film Festival, I can see it connecting to some of the people in that crowd, as it certainly does toss some pretension into its mix of so many variables, with a Culkin thrown in for good measure, a “funky title”, an EDWARD SCISSORHANDS-like utopian version of the ‘burbs and the kid from Green Day’s very cool “Wake Me Up When September Ends” video, leading the show. His name is Jamie Bell and he’s actually the best thing about the film, with a solid performance, including a very believable end sequence with Glenn Close. As for the rest of the movie, it never really bored me entirely, but about half an hour into it, I just couldn’t see the point of any it, and kept caring less and less about anyone on the screen. Sure, it was fun to see so many “names” in the cast, but “stunt casting”, slick directing and an attempt at “indie cool” does not a good movie make. You actually have to connect with the audience, balance your script’s moods effectively or at the very least…entertain. This film mostly just annoyed me and left me wondering about its own existence – as opposed to the so-called contemplation of its characters. I can certainly see how the film might’ve been attempting to show the “disconnect” between parents and teens nowadays, but in the end, it mostly just managed to disconnect itself from me, the dude watching its events unfold. And that dude, well…he’d rather be watching a Green Day video.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian