While the director has seen the works of such luminaries as John Hughes, he has not cracked the secret to their charm. As an attempt at a cinema verite, this movie is also an abject failure. Character motivation is either confounding or non-existant. The dialogue is full of pointless anachronisms and clearly made-up slang which may work for Diablo Cody, but certainly not here. All attempts at witty repartee come off as banal, disturbing, or, during the innumerable cafeteria scenes, both, loudly. There was also no real reason to punctuate the film with constant, pointless classroom scenes in which our protagonist stares out a window or doodles in his notebook. Perhaps, once in a rare while, it is better to tell than show.
It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers).
A critical faculty is a terrible thing. When I was eleven there were no bad films, just films that I didn’t want to see, there was no bad food, just Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and there were no bad books – everything I read was great. Then suddenly, I woke up in the morning and all that had changed. How could my sister not hear that David Cassidy was not in the same class as Black Sabbath? Why on earth would my English teacher think that The History of Mr Polly was better than Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie? And from that moment on, enjoyment has been a much more elusive quality.
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