Who's In It: Jon Foster, Sienna Miller, Peter Sarsgaard, Nick Nolte, Mena Suvari
The Basics: A recent college graduate with an identity crisis (he's a guilty rich kid reluctantly on track to be a stockbroker with a gangster father and a mother who died under suspicious circumstances) takes a mindless clerking job at a discount bookstore and spends a summer aimlessly having sex with his female boss and, in his free time, hanging out with Sienna Miller and Peter Sarsgaard, having sex with both of them, too. For someone getting laid so much you'd think he'd be a little happier than he is. But no, he mopes. It's like watching Felicity if she were a sexually experimental guy.
What's The Deal: There's humor and a charmingly odd quality in Michael Chabon's novel, the one this movie's based on. But all you get here is an earnest march through a sad young man's sad young summer of self-discovery. And I don't want to bash it too much because it's obviously a labor of love from director Rawson Marshall Thurber (he made Dodgeball just to get the cash to free himself to make this). It's just that this kind of real-life experience is usually marked by a kind of internal liberation that eventually makes itself known externally, as well. Except here. He mopes.
What's Right About It: Self-pity. It's the mark of adolescence and, in this story's case, post-adolescence. And it's hard to get right when translating that not-so-sympathetic-yet-universal emotion onto film. And though I goof on him for being so mopey and devoid of personality, newcomer Jon Foster seems to want to convey a lost quality that's a little too big for both him and the movie to grasp. But you can feel him and the film trying hard. That usually counts for something.
Typecasting Alert: This makes the 1137th film in which Peter Sarsgaard is called upon to play a smug, condescending, somewhat unbalanced, louche, bisexual jerk. In other movies he gets to be the shy, earnest not-jerk-like bisexual. But yeah, basically, always bisexual. I think it's because he can do that stereotypically gay voice inflection thing so easily. Even when he's playing a straight guy he sometimes does that voice. You wonder if Maggie Gyllenhaal is ever like, "Dude, could you maybe butch it up a little?"
The Mysteries of Sienna Miller's Film Career: She's plays a main character but you might as well be looking at one of those Where's Waldo? books as finding her here because all she does is just sort of wander in an out of scenes, not doing much. And this is supposed to be the beguiling woman who captures our mopesy young anti-hero? The vintage orange VW Beetle she drives fleshes out her character more than she does.