With clips from more than 200 teen movies made in the decade after 1995's Clueless, this lively kaleidoscopic documentary entertainingly traces how America has depicted the teen experience on screen. The film's structure feels a little deliberate, and it of course is looking at a portrayal of puberty, not the real thing. But it's inventively edited by first-time feature director Charlie Lyne, with a snappy pace and some seriously interesting observations along the way.
These 10 years are significant because they marked an expansion in the style of coming-of-age movies, encompassing genres from comedy to sci-fi to horror to explore the clashes between high school factions of jocks, nerds, burnouts, artists and mean girls. Taken together, these films paint a vivid, perhaps exaggerated portrait of adolescence, including key rites of passage, the mob mentality, and the various things that feel threatening to the "herd" (like smart kids or loners). High school is the time when teens experiment with alcohol, partying, rebellion and sex, while facing up to peer pressure and their own mortality for the first time. And ultimately, everyone must navigate this emotionally overwrought period on his or her own.
The film breaks down this experience into five chapters: fitting in (as either a maverick or conformist), acting out (challenging the rules), losing yourself (developing your own identity), toeing the line (being forced to obey the rules) and moving on (growing into an adult). This kind of makes the movie feel like an academic thesis, especially with the somewhat overwritten narration (voiced by teen star Fairuza Balk). But the movie is packed with telling connections between this vast variety of movies, all of which reflect reality without ever depicting it too honestly. Thankfully, Lyne's editing is knowing and often very funny, putting scenes together to say something completely unexpected.
Continue reading: Beyond Clueless Review
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr and Charlotte Prinze - Sarah Michelle Gellar and husband Freddie Prinze, Jr arrive at Los Angeles International (LAX) airport with their daughter Charlotte and son Rocky - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 8th February 2014
Another rotten romance inexplicably released by formerly respectable indie studio Miramax, "Boys and Girls" is a badly miscast and sadly stagnant collegiate rip-off of "When Harry Met Sally," devoid of a single moment of emotional sincerity or even a single character interesting enough to care about.
Even less original than its pathetically uncreative title suggests, it's the story of a boy (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and a girl (Claire Forlani) who meet from time to time throughout their young lives and pick on each other before winding up at the same college, become best friends and then complicate their relationship by falling into bed.
When it's not stealing scenes wholesale from "When Harry..." (they bond over bad break-ups; she makes a scene in a restaurant; he comforts her while she cries, which leads to kissing, sex, awkwardness, and feigned declarations that "it was a mistake"), the movie is a lazy undergrad romance about generic good-looking students who never study and live in $1,200-a-month apartments decorated like photo shoot in Wallpaper magazine.
Continue reading: Boys & Girls Review
Any delusions Miramax may have been harboring that it was still an arthouse studio have been permanently put to rest with the release of "She'sAll That," a completely common and utterly excruciating high schoolugly duckling romance so grossly out of touch with the times that eventhe title is passe.
Part "Sixteen Candles," part "Pygmalion,""She's All That" tries to hitch a low-rent ride on the coattailsof the "Scream""Dawson'sCreek" teen profit phenomenon by casting a bunch of C-list teenageactors (who, if they had any integrity, would have passed on this movieand kept their fingers crossed for a douche commercial) in roles that NeveCampbell and even James VanDerBeek (late of "Varsity Blues")wouldn't touch with asbestos gloves.
The personality-less Freddie Prinze, Jr. ("Scream,""I Know What You Did Last Summer") stars as Zach, Harrison HighSchool's king of the popular, dreamy jocks. Unceremoniously thrown overby the snobby head cheerleader from central casting (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe),Zach accepts a bet from his cold-blooded posse of in-crowd cronies thathe can turn any girl in school into the prom queen in six weeks.
Being that Harrison High is a Hollywood school, where thefat chicks are a size 10 and a stray eye brow hair signals radical feminism,the worst they can do is Laney (Rachel Leigh Cook), a brainy (she can quoteCNN!), mousy, anti-social art chick who is one removed bobby pin and apair of contact lenses away from ultra-babedom.
The movie takes place in one of those fictional worldswhere although jocks are all bastards, geeks secretly aspire to be jocksand everyone, regardless of clique, goes to the same parties.
Following an inevitable course with no twists or surprises,Zach falls for Laney (despite her queer interest in performance art andcurrent events) and becomes a nice guy in the process, and Laney learnsthat the key to happiness is wearing lip gloss and dating guys with two-digitIQs.
Written by somebody named Lee Fleming, who 1) saw too manyJohn Hughes movies as a teenager and 2) is clearly at least five yearsbehind the times, "She's All That" features badly out-dated slang,clean-cut token minorities who perform spontaneous rap ditties in the schoolquad, and gratuitous references to long-forgotten characters from MTV's"The Real World." In an desperate attempt to look hip, he madeZach the school's star soccer player (football is so 1998!).
Directed by TV veteran Robert Iscove, the pic sleepwalksthrough Laney's requisite confrontations with 1) the cheerleader ("Toanyone here that matters, you're vapor!"), and 2) Zach ("Am Ia bet?!?," turn heel, stomp off dramatically). Iscove failsto avoid a couple dozen other obligatory scenes before wrapping up witha prom climax that includes an ill-advised synchronized dance number.
Forgettable in almost every other regard, "She's AllThat" will be remembered, by those who keep track of such things,only as the movie that knocked Miramax off its pedestal once and for allby demonstrating that several years under Disney's wing has turned chairmenBob and Harvey Weinstein into clones of Larry Levy, the cynical producerfrom "The Player" who reasoned that a good story is immaterialto making a movie for the unwashed masses.
(WARNING: This review contains plot spoilers!)
There is a point about an hour into "Head Over Heels" -- a romantic comedy about a girl who thinks her Mr. Right might be a murderer -- at which the sheer idiocy of the plot and the complete incompetence of the actors seems to be suspended and the singular nugget of potential buried in the script begins to peek out.
The highly contrived, failed Farrelly Brother gimmickry (boy meets girl when his Great Dane knocks her down and tries to hump her) disappears. The lackluster dialogue becomes lucid and out of nowhere several promising, truly funny gags are strung together for long enough that I wrote in my notes "has some seriously clever moments"...
Continue reading: Head Over Heels Review