Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas
Brendan: Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I’ve got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you!
A high school student, Brendan (Gordon-Levitt), investigates the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin).
Well, I was hoping this would be the movie version of the 1997 Ben Folds Five song of the same name. Alas, no such luck. But this is a pretty good movie too. My simplified plot description doesn’t do the serpentine story justice, but seeing as how I’m not sure I even understood all of the twists and turns, I didn’t think it was a good idea to try to get into it at all.
It’s set in a modern day high school, but the teens in this movie talk like they’ve been yanked right out of a 1930s detective movie, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That anachronistic touch is charming at first, but, as Gene Siskel liked to say, a little of that goes a long way. As good as JGL’s performance is, that speech pattern started to give the movie a bit of a flat, unemotional feel about half way through. Though, there’s a great scene that livens things up just when things are getting tiresome. When Brendan finally gets to meet The Pin (Haas), the two talk while being served cookies, cereal, and apple juice by The Pin’s mom. Her presence as one of the few adults in the movie instantly reduces the characters to just teens playing dress up for as long as she’s on screen. It’s like the movie’s giving a little nod to the audience saying it’s aware that there’s a certain silliness to all of this.
That’s not to say there isn’t a serious side as well. There’s drug dealing, murder, and lots of fighting. Where are the parents in all of this? Eh, who cares. There’s a few references here and there, but the only adults I recall seeing were the aforementioned mother of The Pin and the school principal.
I liked the creative angle the movie took in telling its story, and I enjoyed most of the lead performances, but somehow it just lacked a certain energy that kept me from being enthralled in it throughout. Maybe it was the complexity of the plot, or maybe it was JGL’s speech pattern, but by the end of it, I was ready for it to be over. Even if I’d mostly enjoyed what I had watched.
Kids, don’t become drug kingpins. Even if your parents would be oblivious to it.
10 – 1.2 because the style grew a bit tiresome after a while – 1.4 for lacking a bit of energy – .4 because it was sort of confusing (or maybe I was just too tired to follow it) = 7.0