Who's In It: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Rita Wilson, Michael Angarano, Sam Robards, Alicia Silverstone, Elizabeth Reaser

The Basics: All you need to know about Freddie Highmore's character--a reasonably well-off, mope-and-slack-fueled teen do-nothing who skips class and sasses his patience-worn teachers--is that he reads Camus and has recently learned that 160,000 people die on Earth each day. In other words, he's right on track in terms of hitting that icy patch of adolescence where a small minority of oddball teenagers wake up to the idea that everything sucks and when it's over they're going to die. With this information he does what most teenage boys do: fall for a pretty girl (Roberts) and pine for her.

What's The Deal: It would be easier not to dismiss this teen angstathon if it lived up to its convictions, but instead of zooming energetically into someplace new with its portrait of the artist as a young man it falls back on trite, warmed-over Catcher in the Rye-like observations about how phony everyone and everything is. Every pointless moment is visually dull, too, shot like a bland TV update of Some Kind of Wonderful. That approach is like poison for a movie about creative misfits struggling to make sense of themselves and the world, especially when the script offers up teen-friendly ideas about the nature of art and aesthetic integrity ("express what's inside you, etc.") but refuses to extend that generosity to anyone else as they characters shuffle through the Whitney Museum casually passing judgment on work that resembles pieces by artists like Cy Twombly and Mark Rothko. Money where your mouth is, movie.

Who You Spend The Movie Wishing Would Arrive To Tell These Kids What They Really Need To Hear: Molly Ringwald, as the mean airline employee she plays in Not Another Teen Movie, the one who arrives near the end to tell off the main guy. Harsh, maybe, but the film never once calls its characters on their self-involved nonsense with anything more than some lightweight acknowledgment from the kids themselves (words uttered with nothing plot-related to have caused them, as if magical insight flew in the window and landed on their heads) and a few concerned adults offering up standard "don't waste your potential" one-liners.

See Also.. Okay, No, See Instead: Submarine, Ghost World, The World of Henry Orient, Rushmore, Raising Victor Vargas, any early Godard movie from the '60s where young people are drinking Coca-Cola and looking bored.


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