Friday, July 7, 2017
Directed By: Brian Dannelly
Written By: Brian Dannelly & Michael Urban
Cinematography By: Bobby Bukowski
Editor: Pamela Martin
Music By: Christophe Beck
Cast: Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Patrick Fugit, Macauly Culkin, Eva Amurri, Martin Donovan, Mary-Louise Parker, Heather Matarazzo, Chad Faust
When a girl attending a Christian high school becomes pregnant, she finds herself ostracized and demonized, as all of her former friends turn on her.
The film seeks to try and take on controversial issues or at least address them. At first it seems to be able to shock and then turns melodramatic, but at least is willing to take them on and keep it good natured and simple. Like the characters the films heart is in the right place.
The film came along ion that still fertile land when indie films all seemed to try to be controversial or have their own spin on a conventional story or genre. This one seems to be not only having a religious theme, but the more popular characters being the ones that in other high schools would be seen as dorks or more ostracized by the general populace of the school
Mandy Moore's performance at first seems over the top, but as it goes along becomes more nuanced. Even though by the end never gets the comeuppance you are kind of expecting and rooting for.
Which perfectly describes the film. That it starts with all this strength and direction that seems like rebellion and by the end it kind of settles.
Most youth films are about rebelling against the systems this is one of the few that uses religion or at least the hypocrites who use religion to damn others as who the characters are rebelling against while being faithful or at least progressive in their views and behavior, Believing that the rules should change with the time. The film seeks to be witty and have and a sense of humor It just feels like each situation the movie presents must have an unorthodox twist. That exists only to call attention to itself. It never seems natural.
It's rare once in awhile to see a film that actually deals with religion and faith. In a respectful way. I think this film it is more looked at from a satirical point of view. Though it is nice to see a film that deals with teen characters who believe in something such as faith though through the prism of youth that. Naturally makes them question and rebel against what they have been brought up against.
This is one of those movies where you are perfectly entertained while watching it but afterwards you struggle to remember things about it. It's just so breezy that you can't help it.
The film has a witty script. It's not badly acted it directed. The few gripes I have with this film. While I was certainly excited to see Macaulay Culkin in this movie. I can't praise his performance. It always seems like when he acts , no matter what he always seems to have a unnerving smart alec smirk in his face and the way he does his lines always seems like he is still auditioning for the role, while acting it out on film. his casting works both ways, in one way it is stunt casting that gave the movie more attention, but also it seems here he really wants to try and more be a character actor in a supporting role. Even if his is one of the more attention getting characters. Playing a smart ass handicapped character and brother to the protagonist’s nemesis. His character also romances the rebellious girl at school. Whose main reason to be rebellious seems to be that she is a natural outcast because she and her family are jewish. Who the other characters choose to save, As a project. Though she is played with much energy by Eva Amurri who looks remarkably like her real life mother Susan Sarandon
The film isn’t too predictable, but instead of the satire it seeks. It comes across more as melodrama.
Mandy Moore is a comedic highlight in the film as she brings an over the top energy to a broad comedic character that the film needed more of, which is why she stays memorable above all else in this film, Which is actually well cast.
The other thing with this movie is that it tries to be controversial but seems to play to all the sides it is supposed to make fun of sometimes you can have it both ways but it just doesn't work here. At least not if you’re trying to be a satire. For a satire the films fangs are dull and not piercing. Therefore the film comes off more as an agreeable teen film for actual teens.
The film comes off as conventional more than it seems to want. Which might be the main point of the filmmakers as it’s just like teenagers and the characters. They come off more as tough or with a kind of role they try to portray to each other and the public, but once they feel a connection with someone they let their guards down and allow their true self to be seen and is usually one that is vulnerable, decent and kind of sweet. Even if their belief system is different.
The film at least tries to be inventive and apply little rearrangements of characters are cute. Like the heartthrob at school being cool and instead of a motorcycle he rides a scooter and is the new headmasters son. It seems more him being rebellious by dating the pregnant teenage girl. While his father has secrets of his own that go against his supposed beliefs. though is willing to condemn others for lesser sins.
One can enjoy the fact that the religious school was more like a regular private school with cliques and with Jesus Christ being thought of more as a rock star, all the kids love and want to emulate. While the sermons that play are more like a self help concert than church. Though there were many against the film because of the subject manner. The film seems to keep the principles of it. All it asks is to accept all no matter what.
The film had a short afterlife where it seems like most films that there was a limited run musical based on it . that played off-broadway in 2008.