Maybe it takes a passage of time for one’s perceptions to evolve out of a wider base of experiences. Now when I look back at my school years, though some of them were brutal, I see there were parts of it where I was fortunate. Having gone to school at a time when students were not considered bull’s-eyes I can only recall one incident where a student had died. He was the brother of a classmate who was 1 year behind us in school. There were rumors about what happened to him but it appeared as if he had killed himself. Outside of that the only thing that came close was one student who was an epileptic who had a seizure in the middle of a class and another who was a hemophiliac. I remember when the teacher spent half of the morning explaining to us what it meant to be a hemophiliac; we were told to be very careful around her, especially during PE class and recess. As you are probably guessing this was before the HIPAA law came into effect. In regards to these 3 individuals, it was the only time where the different factions (it is the only word that does justice to what my school was like) in the school came together. Whether one actively sought out a faction or was judged and placed in one; after seeing this stellar film, I think all schools have the same factions. FORCED by his mother to go visit a classmate recently diagnosed with cancer Greg, played by Thomas Mann (Project X, Beautiful Creatures), had no idea what to say to Rachel, played by Olivia Cooke (The Signal, Ouija). Not interested in his pity Rachel and Greg had nothing in common except not being part of a particular group in school. Her journey through her illness would blur the lines. This film festival winning comedic drama was this generation’s coming of age story. With cast members like Nick Offerman (We’re the Millers, Parks and Recreation-TV) as Greg’s dad, Molly Shannon (Analyze This, Life After Beth) as Denise and newcomer R J Cyler as Earl; everyone was believable and gelled so well together. The bond between everyone was cemented by the intelligent script that had street smarts. As I sat in the theater watching this movie, I had various school memories popping up that were similar in theme to what I was seeing on screen. With the outstanding directing that beautifully blended in the absurd, sad, happy and uncomfortable scenes; I was swept into the story of this film and enjoyed nearly every minute being involved with these students. Wow, I wish I could have said the same thing about my time spent during my school years.
3 2/3 stars
I cannot understand why there were parents in the audience with their 10-12 year old children. Why would they take their kids to see this movie? There was little entertainment value, zero story and nothing original. I did not find any humor in blowing smoke into a pet’s face or tying a bunch of helium filled balloons to a small dog and watch them slowly rise into the sky. Whether you call it a mock documentary or a found film shooting method, the story was about three high school friends who wanted to throw a birthday bash and document it all on video. So everything we saw was through the viewfinder of a handheld camera; I am not a fan of this technique. The reason was not as much to celebrate one of the friend’s special passages of time, but to gain a cool factor among their peers. In high school I wanted to just blend in, never dreaming that I would attain cool status; so, I totally understand the reasoning to throw the party. However, to sit in the theater and watch 128 minutes filled with drinking, drugs, nudity and stupid pranks was just a big bore for me. With his parents away for a weekend trip, birthday boy Thomas, played by Thomas Mann (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, As Cool as I Am), allowed his good friend Costa, played by Oliver Cooper (Weekend Dad, Rick White), to orchestrate a party at his house, that spiraled out of control. Every cliche you could think of was used in this ridiculous movie. My only hope was that the parents sitting in the theater were using this film as a tutorial for their children, on what not to do when they graduate to high school. If not, I should have called Child Protective Services.