Who's in It:
Conor Donovan, Jesse Camacho, Zoe Weizenbaum, Annabella Sciorra
The Basics: One kid has a birthmark that he wears a hockey mask to hide. His twin brother was accidentally murdered by bullies. One kid has an intense crush on a local construction worker. She's 12, and he's 30. One kid is obese and loses his sense of smell and taste, causing him to go on an all-fruit-and-vegetable diet. Then their stories are wrapped up neatly after a bunch of somewhat ridiculous plot points.
What's the Deal? This is one of those indie movies in which it seems as though the filmmaker doesn't have a handle on how to cut something open and inspect it (in this case, suburban adolescence) without mocking it in the process. And worse, it chokes in the process. It's never grotesque or cruel enough to be a Todd Solondz film, and it's too mushy, convenient and seemingly scared of its own content to be significant.
What's Good About It: All three of the main kid characters handle themselves well. None of them is annoying. Director Michael Cuesta knows how to deal with kid actors (his first movie was L.I.E., which was about a teenage boy and his kindly pedophile neighbor). Unfortunately, it's the script that does them in. And Jeremy Renner from Dahmer is great to watch and maybe residually creepy? as the construction worker with the 12-year-old admirer.
Best Moment: Young Zoe Weizenbaum serenades Renner with a great cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Burning for You," complete with flute solo. If you ever catch it on cable, look out for that part.
Stereotypes Upheld: It portrays the obese kid's equally fat family as a constantly binging pack of slobbering, disgusting pigs. Nice.