This is a review I wrote back in 2011 when I was writing for BacklotD. The movie came up recently in a discussion with a new friend and I figured I would share it with you. This will also give you a glimpse of what my writing skills used to be and what you can look forward to.
Remember those fun loving teen angst filled 80’s movies about people forgetting about your birthday, skipping school and Saturday detention? Clearly writer/director Gavin Wiesen does because he has delivered a brilliant 21st century version that John Hughes himself would doff his cap to.
Wiesen gives us George (Freddie Highmore), an intelligent and artistically gifted high school senior who just can seem to care about anything. He feels that since we are all going to die at some point nothing until that end has any meaning.
George’s mother (played wonderfully by Rita Wilson) and teachers just don’t know what to do with or for George. It goes so far that George’s principal (played very credibly by Blair Underwood) gets involved and things get pretty serious pretty quickly. Ultimatums are given, lines are drawn.
Enter new friend and love interest Sally (Emma Roberts) and George is no longer a loner. Through Sally, George meets more friends and gets a feel for being part of a social circle. He even finds himself Dustin, a former student at George’s high school who is impressed with George and decides to mentor him.
This movie really delivers with realism and honesty. The emotions and situations depicted in this film are true to real life and easy for the audience to relate to, even if you are not a teenager. George’s mom and step father struggle with careers and the tough economic times as well as with the challenges of the non nuclear family. Wiesen does a great job of bringing us the perspective of the other characters besides George.
This movie is NOT preachy. It is NOT self indulgent. It is raw, edgy and gritty. This is shown in every aspect of the film from the dialogue to the scenery and even the style in which it was shot. This film is a case study of what life is like, or at least FEELS like in 2011.
It is praiseworthy to not how Wiesen gives this perspective for not only our main character, George, but also for his friends, parents and teachers as well. No aspect of this story or George’s world was ignored.
Life is hard. Love is hard, especially when you are young and experiencing things for the first time. It can feel like you are trying to navigate your way through a never ending mine field with no map or guide. Sometimes you get kicked in the gut and don’t know if the pain will ever stop. Sometimes you are just treading water.
This is Gavin Wiesen’s full length feature directorial debut and he delivers in Spades. It is charming and brilliant and most definitely worth your time and money. Besides, if it is good enough for John Hughes it is good enough for us.