A dude named Brendan notices that his ex-girlfriend Emily is missing and decides to hook up with his buddy Brain in order to figure how she disappeared, while grilling friends like Kara and Dode, and underground cats like Tugger and The Pin. Got all that? Well, yeah, itís a little convoluted, but pretty easy to follow, although not all that interesting, to be honest with you. A different kind of high school flick ensues.
Iím all for creative writing, unique circumstances and originality when it comes to any type of film, specifically anything to do with high school and not featuring mean girls being bitches, dudes drinking and looking to get laid and teachers and parents being all-around sticks-in-the-mud, but even though writer/director Rian Johnson slaps together an incredibly different kind of high school movie here (think film noir meeting David Lynch at a youth rally), the end result isnít really all that entertaining, with one-dimensional characters spouting hip dialogue, but ultimately, not meaning all that much. In fact, my biggest peeve with the film would have to be its most important element: the story. I honestly wasnít all that interested in what was going on in this film, and even though the directing was cool, the dialogue fun to decipher and the characters somewhat unique, I honestly didnít give a shit about anyone in the movie, even less so the girl that the lead character was attempting to find, and even less than that, the story on the whole. About an hour into it all, I asked myself if I could simply walk away from the movie and not care one way or the other, and the response was an enthusiastic ďHell yeah!!Ē.
But like I said earlier, there were also elements about the film that I did like, so I was a little torn when it came to writing this review, as I most certainly liked the filmís ambition, its avant-garde dialogue and the persistence of the lead character (played nicely by Heath Ledger look-alike Joseph Gordon-Levittóof TVís ď3rd Rock from the SunĒ fame), but all of that other stuff balanced those better things off, leading to a middle-of-the-road score for the film as a whole. It also ended on a pretty lame note, with a final twist that didnít really need to be there, and just made it all that much more complicated (particularly if you look back and see how amazingly prophetic one of the characters needed to be in order to pull some of that stuff off). The character named Tugs was also pretty annoying, and even though the character named The Pin was cool as shit, againÖthey balanced each other off, so the bad got rid of the good. I am glad that they decided to slip a cutie into the mix though (Nora Zehetner), because all of those guys getting beat up and constantly mouthing off at one another got a little old after a while. And one more thing, I donít think the film on the whole was pretentious, but I have to say that despite doing my best to downplay any pretentiousness, it ultimately creeped through a little, which also didnít help. Then again, I really liked the filmís score, so thereís another zero-sum.
So do I recommend that you see this movie? Well, if you feel like youíre in the mood to see a high school mystery that plays things like an adult world of film noir with dialogue complex enough to confuse your parents, you may want to check it out, if only because you might actually really like it. As for me, Iím riding this one right down the middle so I canít really recommend it to anyone, unless itís one of those lazy video nights and youíre in the mood to experiment. PS: I thought the one scene featuring The Pinís mom was very, very funny (in that HEATHERS sorta way), but on the whole, really out of place, when you consider that no other scenes featured any adults mixing into this groovy bleak underground created by these kids. Felt like another movie thereÖa much better one, in fact! (call it THE PIN and Iím there!)
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian