Director: Roger Avary
Writer: Roger Avary
Producers: Greg Shapiro
James Van Der Beek as Sean Bateman
Shannyn Sossamon as Lauren Hynde
Ian Somerhalder as Paul Denton
This is not a happy-go-lucky movie though. It’s the film that most parents want to pretend doesn’t exist (which is why I’m guessing that most “old timers” will hate it), but that many kids know…does. For me, it brought back many good and bad memories of relationships, parties and drunken buffoonery gone by. It reminded me of how every love, every kiss, every connection with another is a combination of destiny, attitude, timing, chemistry and heck…communication! It reminded me of how much my own life stinks without my girlfriend right now, and how my drinking and binging isn’t solving anything. But I digress and before I write a term paper on the suckiness of my own social calendar at this time…back to the movie. The soundtrack also rocked! I knew that Tarantino (Avary’s old video store buddy) had a firm grasp on connecting song to scene, but Avary seems to have that similar talent. I loved the eclectic nature of it all, everything from the French quirky tunes to the alternative 80s stuff to the over-the-top pop reminders like Wham! and the Cure. The actors were also enjoyable to watch, and without putting too much emphasis on one particular guy…James Van Der Beek is friggin’ awesome here. He is completely against the type that he usually plays, but on top of that, he is incredibly intense, viciously charismatic and ultimately, extremely entertaining. In fact, he reminded me a lot of another actor who recently kicked my ass: Christian Bale, who smoked the character of Patrick Bateman all over the screen in AMERICAN PSYCHO (the irony of course, is that Van Der Beek plays the character of Sean Bateman in this film– technically the brother of Patrick).
Shannyn Sossamon was also very believable and empathetic as the messed up virgin skater chick with the adorable smile, who in one particularly funny scene ends up talking to a major film geek, who mentions Tarantino’s name in passing. The scene immediately following that one is also hilarious, in fact, the movie is filled with dozens of such memorable moments, many of which feature sharp dialogue and dark humor. Just like in GO, there is a whole subplot concerning drug-dealers which is a blast and a wonderful split-screen scenario that takes us through to the first meeting between The Beek and Sossamon, and is one of the more original such reunions that I’ve ever seen. Awesome stuff! I also loved the whole X-Mas theme, the lights, the snow, the Kubrick touches (as well as the tip of the cap to TRAINSPOTTING) and one of the most entertaining sequences from any film this year, which fast-forwards us through Kip Pardue’s European vacation, a sequence that I truly can’t even begin to capture in words here. You really have to see it to believe it. Great stuff and somewhat reminiscent of my own European trip-save for all those hard drugs, sex and parties.
In the end, there really isn’t much of a “story” in this film. It’s basically a “week in the life” of three fucked up kids (who isn’t?) going through some heartfelt shite within the backdrop of a massive college party weekend (I loved the Pre-Saturday Night Party Party-these people love to party!), filled with nudity (yup, we see Pardue dick and plenty of boobies), drugs, homosexuality, alcohol, sex, violence, tears, laughter and about as much style as you could fit into a picture, including backwards motion, super-close-ups, freeze-frames, fast motion, split screens and everything and anything in between.