Sunday, June 21, 2009

West of Pluto: Movie Review

Teenagers that are independent and real.

"West of Pluto" is an independent French film made in Quebec. It gives us a look into the lives of several high school teenagers as they struggle with popularity, heartbreak and every day life. It sounds like the high school teen comedy or coming of age dramedy, but it’s nothing like that because it’s real. Carefully walks the line between documentary and fiction and it’s one of those films that it doesn't even matter which side of the line it's on because it has such a real feel to it.   2008

Directed by: Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault

Screenplay by: Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault

Starring: Alexis Drolet, David Bouchard and Sandra Jacques

The title comes from one of the kid's speeches at school about Pluto. The filmmakers were making a reference between the “former planet” and the life of the teenager—a very fitting, intelligent, and thoughtful comparison. Like the comparison the filmmakers made, the film itself is avant-garde in its presentation of the typical teenage dilemmas, giving them depth and meaning to their thoughts and feelings.

The low budget worked well, adding to the realism of the atmosphere and characters. The actors that were cast didn’t seem like actors, but real teenagers. They made you care for them. Unfortunately, there were way too many characters. I couldn’t keep them all straight and I’m sure that most of them were extraneous.

The point of introducing us to all these characters is to take us to a party through the eyes of each of them. What the party means to them, what happens at the party, and ultimately, how it affects all of them. The party, representing the climax of the film, was handled well and really went to show that no two teenagers are alike.

And no two teenager films are alike either. “West of Pluto” may be similar to “American Teen”, but it has its differences, and hey, it’s Canadian! It’s about the real struggles of teenagers, a little slow with too many characters, but it’s also intelligent and real and deserves to be seen.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spring Breakdown: Movie Review

Cliché riddled trip to a college party, but quick and funny enough to be enjoyable.

“Spring Breakdown” stars Amy Poehler, Parker Posey and Rachel Dratch as three thirty-something “losers”. 15 years out of college and finally with an opportunity to take a spring break vacation, they jump on the chance—meaning, they think about, weigh the pros and cons, and then plan it, and then they jump at the chance.   2009

Directed by: Ryan Shiraki

Screenplay by: Ryan Shiraki

Starring: Amy Poehler, Parker Posey and Rachel Dratch

This is better than your average spring break comedy of disasters because of our three female heroines. The high school or college losers are very common characters, but this is the older version of them and there is an element of maturity that we don’t get with similar movies. Although that maturity is completely gone once we get to the beach party-town.

This is completely riddled with clichés, you will know what is going to happen next, but I still found myself laughing along with it. There is a “girl power” quality to the whole thing which comes off more cheesy than empowering, but the number of “Saturday Night Live” vets and other capable comedic actresses pull everything off well enough that it is still funny.

Not taking itself very seriously, “Spring Breakdown” flies through all the necessary background set-ups, cliché plot points, and expected resolutions. The result is that it’s quick and funny enough to enjoy it for its minimal run time. You will then likely forget all about it afterwards.

Current Status:

"Spring Breakdown" is available on DVD and Blu-ray.