Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Growing Op: Movie Review

The weird humour of growing up in a grow op.
"Growing Op" is about a teenager named Quinn (Steven Yaffee) struggling with growing up, dealing with his parents, meeting girls and trying to fit-in in high school—and this is on top of living in a marijuana grow house, being home-schooled by his mother and not actually knowing any kids his age. (But as Dad says to Quinn, "You can use the internet, it’s perfect for social exiles like yourself.") 2008

Directed by: Michael Melski

Screenplay by: Michael Melski

Starring: Steven Yaffee and Jon Cor

Rosanna Arquette and Wallace Langham play Quinn’s parents. Diana and Bryce are the anti-establishment hippie types that you would expect to find making a business out of growing marijuana (and not just growing but developing the most potent strains of marijuana) in their home. The only difference is their home is in the suburbs, not a hippie commune, and their teenage son Quinn is not happy with their business. On the other hand, Quinn’s sister, Hope (Katie Boland), is happily selling pot to all the local kids.

As is easily guessed before the movie even begins, Quinn is different. A gentler kid, a teenager who actually wants to be a teenager, or at least just be relatively normal. This means going to high school for the first time.

Left to right, Quinn (Steven Yaffee) and Crystal (Rachel Blanchard), photo by: Mathieu Leger.
Writer and director Michael Melski has taken the classic fish-out-of-water set-up and gave it a plot, and dark comedy stylings, and a dramatic twist. The family scenes slow down the other wise mildly amusing high school scenes – most of which involve Quinn trying to adjust to social norms, and of course Quinn meeting a girl.

The interesting plot, albeit a weird plot and a completely unbelievable one, results from Quinn’s high school adventures. The girl he falls for is named Crystal, played by Rachel Blanchard who is the perfect choice to connect the sweet earnings of a normal teenage life with the darker realities of the types of people who inhabit this world. Quinn’s high school enrollment and his crush on Crystal (who of course has right-wing parents), cause problems for every character in the film.

The mostly unknown cast were all very good and Steven Yaffee as Quinn was the perfect lead character. You believe in him and want him to succeed. “Growing Op” makes some awfully weird choices that can cause changes in tone that can make the film difficult to connect to, but each element of the film is also funny, fun and interesting.