Ben Lee, Rose Byrne, Miranda Richardson
Placid Lake: You hate that guy, don’t you?
Joel: If I could get away with it, I’d kill him, have his windpipe bronzed and wear it on a chain around my neck.
Placid Lake (Lee) is an odd child, with two free-spirited, non-violent parents. Placid is picked on constantly throughout school, and his only true friend is Gemma (Byrne), who he’s had a platonic relationship with since they were very little. After he’s out of school, Placid decides to rebel against his parents, conform to society, and get a job at an insurance company. Meanwhile, Gemma – who’s always been a much more studious type than Placid – is starting to think that she’d rather explore more of herself than the bookish scientist role that her father has channeled her into.
I think I can trace my general annoyance with this movie directly to the lead performance by Ben Lee. Placid Lake is not very likable. Sure he got picked on a lot, for no real reason, but that doesn’t give him license to be such a selfish jerk all the time. The character and the performance just rubbed me the wrong way.
Thankfully, Rose Byrne is also in the movie, and her cuteness and likability balances things out. I’d rather have seen a movie all about her. Miranda Richardson is entertaining as Placid’s mother, and I thought Christopher Stollery was particularly good in a subtle performance as Placid’s boss at the insurance company. He’s funny, but there’s also a certain sadness to his performance as a guy who’s been broken down by the corporate world and wants to live vicariously through whatever excitement Placid might have in his life.
The idea of someone rebelling against their wild parents by becoming a buttoned down business type is reasonably funny, but it also got old pretty fast. Plus, the outcome of that story line, as well as the one involving Placid and Gemma, is entirely predictable. There are some funny moments along the way, but it’s all moving towards one dull, inevitable conclusion.
Don’t jump off of buildings. You’ll break bones.
10 – 2.1 for the annoying lead character/performances – 1.7 for being overly predictable – .4 for being a little too repetitive with its themes + .2 for Rose Byrne = 6.0