Tag Archives: teenage romance

The Kissing Booth

Oh my god I want to kill myself.

 

The movie made me say that, and actually I said it more than once. Sean thought it was a sufficient review.

Is it though?

I’ll give you just a touch more:

A girl and a guy, both virgins and best friends, have a couple of strict rules to their friendship, the most important one being don’t fall in love with each other’s siblings, so oh my god guys, guess what happens!

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She totally falls in love with his hunky older brother, and a lot of the plot revolves around a kissing booth at their high school carnival, but I’m struggling to tell you why this was important.

Anyway, there was some dialogue so bad it still wasn’t good but I did laugh, in a gaggy, kill me now, can we turn this off kind of way. It feels written by someone who never even went to high school, and who doesn’t care if they damage female self-esteem for an entire generation. The stuff that happens is infuriating and improbable and I’d rather pull out my own toenails and eat them than watch this again.

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Love, Simon

I wondered whether we needed a ‘coming out’ movie in 2018, but Love, Simon surprised me. It surprised me most of all by being good, but also by making a case for its existence. Simon is a high school student with a secret. He’s gay. And it’s not that he’s particularly afraid of how his family or friends will react to the news, which is nice, and sadly not everyone’s experience. But Simon’s still holding back just because he feels that life will change for him once he’s out, and he’s not feeling ready to rock the boat.

The thing is, no matter how gently the boat would actually rock, it still should be Simon’s choice when and how to come out – and that should remain true until the proverbial ‘coming out’ is no longer necessary (ie, when hetero is no longer the ‘default’). But in the MV5BZjdmNjI4NjctNWEwNi00M2EwLTg4MzItMWFmMTU0MDJiMzA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTE0MDE1MjQ@._V1_film, Simon (Nick Robinson) has that stolen from him. Another kid, Martin (Logan Miller), learns his secret and exploits it, uses it to blackmail him for his own ends. Which, okay, further illustrates that everyone in high school is desperate and scared and going through something. But saving yourself should never  be at somebody else’s expense. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson both Martin AND Simon will have to learn, because to protect his secret, Simon makes some bad choices that will hurt the very friends who will love and support him if and when he does choose to be out.

It’s a pretty solid cast and a pretty solid story and a good reminder that just because being gay is a little more…mainstream? tolerated? understood? – it can still feel like a thing that sets you apart. And while being gay is not a choice, we should all be allowed to choose our own path. Sexuality doesn’t really set us apart but secrets do. And living your truth is the only way out.

Every Day

A couple of weeks ago, after yet another heavy snowfall, Sean slid his beautiful car into a dump truck stubbornly parked in the middle of the road. Mournful, he sent me pictures of the damage (he was totally fine, the car incurred some ugly scratches) so that I could send a sympathy bouquet with my deepest condolences. He had his car doctor on speed dial of course, and this week he brought her in for cosmetic surgery. In the meantime, he’s traded in his flashy muscle car for a Toyota Camry rental and it’s destroying his soul. After a 6 minute drive he declared “Everything is backwards!” What, pray tell, is backwards, exactly? Well, the wipers. Well, not the wipers, but the wiper knob, it’s on the other side of the steering wheel. Is that all, Sean? Oh no. Another backwards thing: his car is fast, this one is slow. When I mention this seems more like opposites than backwards, he clearly does not appreciate the difference, or he doesn’t appreciate my pointing it out.

Cut to: a Camry-ride later, we’re at a screening of Every Day, the newest in teen romance. One of the “lead characters” is…well, not a ghost, maybe more like a soul, who migrates MV5BNDQwYTJhYWItNzY1MC00NzM5LWI1YjgtM2ExNzE3MWRiODk1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDI4MTE4OTU@._V1_SX1499_CR0,0,1499,999_AL_to a different teenaged body every day. This entity will henceforth be named A. A. happens to fall in love with a girl named Rhiannon (Angourie Rice). Rhiannon never knows what her love will look like, so she just has to walk around school until she finds a stranger giving her the creeps. That’ll be today’s version of A.

As you can imagine, there are some challenges to dating someone who is, erm, bodily challenged. It’s a lot for a couple of kids to take on. Luckily, these aren’t normal teenagers but the world’s most tolerant, imaginative, understanding teenagers who are so open-minded they might just make this thing work (if only the skeptical\logical adults don’t get in the way). It’s hard to imagine less vain members of the selfie generation – A. runs the gamut from hot cheerleader to the fat sidekick from Spiderman: Homecoming, and yes of course A. chronicles them all on Instagram, because duh.

It seems statistically impossible that, of the more than a dozen young actors who play A., not a single one of them is any good, but this is where the long odds pay off. At some point the casting agent must have just said fuck it and gone for the perfect score, even if it is in the wrong direction. What I’m really grappling with is how old this movie made me feel. I am now so far away from being a teenage girl myself that I can’t even identify what a “cute boy” is anymore. Understand that my mother called me boy-crazy since I was 3; my bedroom walls were plastered in Luke Perry posters, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Joey McIntyre, and Leo, of course. So I used to be a bit of a heartthrob aficionado, not to brag. But now? My hottie-thermometer was stone cold. I could not have distinguished between the “hot boyz” and lint pulled up from between the sofa cushions. The struggle is real, y’all.

In conclusion: if you are a 14 year old girl, proceed with gusto. Everyone else should probably consider carrying a special spray just to ward this one off. Watching this movie is like main-lining progesterone. It hits you in the ovaries so hard I went home and immediately had the period cries.

Sean watched the movie hands clasped, eyes to the ceiling. Was he praying for his own death? We’ll never know. But as we walked back toward the Camry humbly awaiting us in the cinema parking lot, he wondered if it was actually his beloved Mustang simply manifesting itself in the ugly body of a reliable, economical, mid-size sedan. Maybe?

November Criminals

Addison is a precocious high school student who is only too happy to take time out from grieving his recently deceased mother to lose his virginity to elusive beauty Phoebe and apply to college. But while he’s pursuing these quintessentially teenaged dreams, a friend of his gunned down in a nearby coffee shop. Kevin is well-liked, a good student, an inquiring mind, but because he’s black the cops seem to dismiss the crime as “gang related” and Addison is crushed that no one is looking for his killer.

If it works at all, November Criminals has two likeable leads in Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz; their chemistry makes up for some of the defects in their characters which are ENORMOUS AND UNFORGIVABLE. Ansel Elgort is tasked with playing a thoroughly hero_November-Criminals-2017unlikeable kid, and Grace-Moretz simply gets assigned the not-fully-realized female costar who heals his sadness by touching his penis. It’s not remotely their fault but November Criminals is maybe the most undercooked movie I’ve ever seen – like, on a scale from rare to well-done, it’s a bloody, oozy, thoroughly blue kind of undercooked that’s bound to give you worms. I’ve read the novel upon which it is based and half-remember it, and even that half-memory is more fulsome than the script for this thing, which feels like it’s missing about 75% of its content and 100% of what would make it understandable or good. The film offers up a small slice of the story, with an inadequate beginning and hardly any end, and such an abbreviated middle you’ll wonder if perhaps we’re still in the opening credits. But while the movie needs at least another two hours in order to tell its story, the mere thought of having to sit through a single moment more than its 85 minute run time is upsetting. This film never justifies any reason for its existence and wastes every frame of its film.

Even in a post-hipster culture, teenagers who willfully carry beepers are just knobs. White kids who become vigilantes for their black friend’s death out of sheer boredom are intolerable. This movie serves up so much that is objectionable I could hardly stand to see it all the way to the end. Maybe the teenage angst coupled with a murder mystery was supposed to invoke Veronica Mars but the movie is troubled, voiceless, neutered. Don’t bother.

The Outcasts

Jodi and Mindy are a couple of … nerds? geeks? kids who just don’t fit in? But they do have each other, which is not quite enough when their high school’s resident Mean Girl pulls a nasty prank. They vow to get even, and their brilliant plan involves uniting all the school’s Great Unwashed – every band geek, gamer, stoner, and whoever else resides on the outskirts of the Popular Clique. The popular gang only exists because the rest of the outsiders are fractured. Put them all on the same team and suddenly they’re the dominant group. Whoa, reversal! Will high school ever be the same again?

5x3tw-Y6XMQG2KXH5-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1490285390734._RI_SX940_Jodi (Victoria Justice) and Mindy (Eden Sher) are our bike-helmet wearing heroes, but that doesn’t mean we know much about them. Even in a movie that champions the outcasts, we still relegate them to the thing that labels them: Mindy is the supersmart, MIT-bound nerd, Jodi is the aimless dreamer, there’s the guy who wears a cape to school, the guy who exists just to dance, the girl who’s obsessed with Paris, the girl scout…lots and lots of one dimensions.

The Outcasts can best be described as “harmless” – it adds nothing to the high school movie genre and is light on its message of inclusivity. The only mild amusement I derived from the movie was in reading the slogans on everyone’s tshirts. I was forgetting it before it was even done, and that’s probably for the best.

The Space Between Us

An astronaut behaved irresponsibly and went on the first mission to Mars pregnant. Never mind that they won’t even do surgery on me without double checking that I’m fetus-free, somehow they let this woman go into space without peeing on a stick and they blame HER. Even when she dies in childbirth. It’s such a shameful scandal that they decide to keep her pregnancy and the resulting baby a secret from everyone watching on Earth…which means they raise her kid on Mars and no one outside a select few astronauts even knows he exists.

The kid, Gardner (Asa Butterfield), now in his teens, has lived entirely on Mars. He’s only MV5BZjhjMjFjNzctOGE0OC00NmM1LWEzOWQtOTczOTEzNmNmNWVmL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk0NDk2ODc@._V1_.jpgmet about a dozen other people, all astronauts colonizing Mars, including Kendra (Carla Gugino), the woman who is quasi-raising him. He’s smart, as someone raised by a team of scientists would tend to be, and he finds a way to have secretive chats with Earth-girl Tulsa (Britt Robertson). She doesn’t know who he really is, and wouldn’t believe him anyway. But when he shows up at her school (after a months-long journey of course) she is still keen to go on a father-finding adventure with him, while he marvels, mouth agape, at all the wonderful Earthy things he’s only read about in books. Kendra and program director Nathanial (Gary Oldman) chase after him, knowing his organs cannot withstand Earth’s atmosphere.

You might think that the teen romance genre and the sci-fi genre are not natural bedmates, and that’s a fair worry, but it’s not what troubles the movie. The movie failed way before that. There’s actually not much space between the leads, who spend more of the movie sharing a truck cab than on two separate planets. But what we really need to be concerned about is the excruciating nonsense between them. The uncomfortable schmaltz between them. The insane leaps of logic between them. The unforgivable cliches between them.

The movie just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s not even charming as a fish-out-of-water story because there’s little time between them to stop and smell the roses. This movie is a time-waster at best – not a memorable one, and not an entertaining one. If it was titled The Waste of Space Between Us, at least you’d know what you were in for.

 

 

You Get Me

If you ever wondered what Fatal Attraction would have been like populated with people you didn’t like in high school, have I got a treat for you. Well, not a treat exactly. You still won’t like it. But at least it’ll be partially your fault.

Tyler and Alison are high school sweethearts who are “taking it slow.” They attend a Bella1party one fine summer’s even where Tyler finds out that Alison has a slutty past and his adolescent jealousy rears its ugly head and they break up. Sexy Holly is there to help his penis though this difficult time. They share a steamy weekend together, but the minute Alison extends an olive branch, Tyler runs back into her welcoming arms. No harm done.

Except Holly shows up in school with them on Monday morning, and she infiltrates their clique. Suddenly Tyler’s revenge sex doesn’t seem like such a good idea! What if she tells Alison? And, perhaps more importantly, what if she goes on a murderous rampage?

Because she kind of does. She’s a bit deranged and stalky and decides that if Alison is what stands between her and Tyler, well, the only thing that makes sense is to mow Alison down, plus any bystanders for good measure. Note to Tyler: the hot ones are always batshit crazy.

The movie plays out even more ludicrously than this sounds, trust me. It’s predictable as shit and can’t even manage to plagiarize other movies correctly, “updating” the Fatal Attraction premise with texting and social media, which is a really cool and a great idea, SAID NO ONE EVER. The result is a psychological thriller weak on the psychological AND on the thriller – but pretty strong when it comes to cars no one would ever let a teenager drive, and high school students with suspiciously buff bodies. And don’t get me started on these little dumbshits never calling the police. If you ask me, the body count was far too low. They all deserved slow deaths. I was unsatisfied.

Everything, Everything

Are you a teenage girl? Or perhaps you simply have the taste in movies of one (Twilight, The Fault In Our Stars, Before I Fall)? If so, you can confidently add this movie to your lineup. For everyone else: keep moving.

It ain’t bad, it’s just not that good. It’s about a young woman, Maddy (Amandla Stenberg), who has SCID, a disease that basically renders her immune system void. She has to stay in her sterile home just to stay alive. She has never left it. It’s a sad and sheltered existence without outside contact except for her mother and her nurse, Carla, and what she can observe from her window. When a cute boy (Olly, Nick Robinson) moves in next door, it widens her world by a tiny margin, but only makes her feel more keenly for what she’s missing.

MV5BMTU5ODEzNTI4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODU1MTQzMjI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_Their love story unfolds slowly, as it must when one person is physically removed from the other. In the novel they communicate by text or instant messaging. To make that play a little less boring on screen, director Stella Meghie imagines them within the architectural models that Maddy’s always working on. It’s a device that works while still reminding us that these conversations don’t actually take place in a face-to-face reality. Still, it’s a talk-heavy, plot-light movie that doesn’t move around too much. If you aren’t swooning over Olly’s too-long-locks, you’re probably going to find this long.

As you might guess, this relationship prompts Maddy to consider going outside for the first time in her life. She’ll be risking her tenuous health and the sharp disapproval of her overprotective mother. But what else is young love for, if not rebellion?

Anyway. As you know, Hollywood only thinks teenagers are good for two things: romance with vampires, and death. Or at least they’re only profitable doing one of those two MV5BM2UwNDlhNmUtOWRiYi00MzgzLWFiMzEtMDE2MWE2NWY0MzMxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTkxOTY3MDY@._V1_things. Amandla Stenberg is very charming as Maddy, the brave, beautiful, but socially awkward girl next door trapped in a glass castle. She succumbs to the kind of romantic gestures no teenage boy would be caught doing and only a young-adult novelist could dream up. There’s some major eye-rolling to be had in this movie, and it starts rather early, when Olly first appears in his driveway, tossing his luscious locks in the unfiltered sunlight, shooting his pretty neighbour a cocksure grin while showing off on his skateboard. I was so sure he was about to eat it, and truthfully hoping he would, that it set a really weird tone to the movie for me. I guess my lusty teenage days are too far behind me. Your enjoyment of this movie will depend on the calculation between yourself and your own misspent youth.