STEP SISTERS (2018)

Directed By: Charles Stone III 
Written By: Chuck Hayward 
Cinematography By: Christopher Baffa 
Editor: Matt Friedman 

Cast: Megalyn Eichikunwoke, Lyndon Smith, Gage Golightly, Eden Sher, Marque Richardson, Alessandra Torresani, Naturi Naughton, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Matt McGorry, Robert Curtis Brown


Jamilah has her whole life figured out. She’s the president of her sorority, captain of their champion step dance crew, is student liaison to the college dean, and her next move is on to Harvard Law School. She’s got it all, right? But when the hard-partying white girls from Sigma Beta Beta embarrass the school, Jamilah is ordered to come to the rescue. Her mission is to not only teach the rhythmically-challenged girls how to step dance, but to win the Steptacular, the most competitive of dance competitions. With the SBBs reputations and charter on the line, and Jamilah’s dream of attending Harvard in jeopardy, these outcast screw-ups and their unlikely teacher stumble through one hilarious misstep after another. Cultures clash, romance blossoms, and sisterhood prevails as everyone steps out of their comfort zones.


This is a cute film that tries to say something. About diversity and races coming together. Now of course you know what this type of film you are going to get so if Looking for something more deep or artistic you know you aren’t going to find it here.

If you are looking for something light, fun, and mildly Funny this is the film for you. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of BRING IT ON for its light yet biting attitude.

It feels a bit like a combination of films like bring it on and the dance movie series like STEP UP only less focused on romance and more focused on stepping.

I enjoyed the film making the black sorority characters threatening but not villains and open-minded.

You won’t believe any of the endings this Film goes for feel good and promotes equality, but the actions of the characters just feel false but again this is the type of film where you just have to accept it as it isn’t Shakespeare.

The film is written by Chuck Hayward who is a successful tv-writer he writes for DEAR WHITE PEOPLE and I recognize plenty of cast members from that show sprinkled throughout as well as actors who worked on his previous projects.

Everyone seems perfectly cast as this has the fun of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE but not the impact or heaviness when it comes to the story.

I am happy to see actress Megalyn Eichikunwoke finally getting a lead role after seeing her play good supporting performances in movies like DAMSELS IN DISTRESS. Here she shines and shows she has star quality.

The race material is fun and is kept in the foreground for moments and ongoing plots but as the film goes along it melts away and just shows people are people and characters have many different shades and levels.

One point I did like was her having an overly sensitive liberal Caucasian boyfriend who goes over the low. In his liberal beliefs gives an attitude that blacks always need help or a handout. His heart is in the right place but he can’t see how he is minorly insulting.

It’s also interesting in the beginning the character is seen as more down with her race she is in an interracial relationship and when she finally opens herself to others and other races she is interested in an African American character for dating.

This is a film that makes the action happen fast, as to not bore the audience. it gets raunchy but PG-13 raunchy. So it is perfect for teens and good for an afternoon movie to have fun with and put you In a good mood probably forgetting it soon after. Quality enough though. It’s a film that might be more fun on the big screen but it is a Netflix release. Made for that type of home audience. As studios rarely put money in low to mid-budget projects anymore especially with teen comedies. Where it is more of a minor gamble.

Though there seems to be a drought of films such as these that seem built in to have crossover appeal. It would seek more natural theatrical release as it does provide the familiarity of material and broad stereotypes that it seeks to disprove and have fun with. Meant to open the minds of the characters and maybe even some audience members.

Grade: C+

GIRL ASLEEP (2016)

Directed By: Rosemary Myers 
Written By: Matthew Whittet (Based on his Stage Play) 
Cinematography By: Andrew Commis 
Editor: Karryn de Cinque 

Cast: Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Amber McMahon, Matthew Whittet, Eamon Farren, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Catanzariti, Pia Moutakis, Clara Moutakis 

The world is closing in on Greta Driscoll. On the cusp of turning fifteen she can’t bear to leave her childhood, it contains all the things that give her comfort in this incomprehensible new world. She floats in a bubble of loser with her only friend Elliott, until her parents throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and she’s flung into a parallel place; a world that’s weirdly erotic, a little bit violent and thoroughly ludicrous – only there can she find herself. Based on the critically acclaimed production by Windmill Theatre, The film is a journey into the absurd, scary and beautiful heart of the teenage mind.


The film feels like a dream which at least a third of the film appears as a Out and out fantasy that makes no sense except to the main character and seems to be a parable about her dilemma. It feels more like the work of a singular imagination that makes sense to only a few.

 Luckily the film works off of offbeat charm and style. As well as being absurd with details such as the date of her birthday being February 31st, The twins that constantly are the henchwomen of the main characters. Album cover art coming alive an becoming a full character and just about the entire third act that becomes a weird rural fantasy.

While the film definitely has a vision and most of the film could usually be explained away as more of a vivid exaggeration that comes off surreal of how it feels to be growing from a child into a teenager. Where you still have that innocence but the real world starts to beckon harder and harder putting pressure on you. Though either way the characters would still be considered quirky from any other view.

The film actually started out as a stage play. Which helps explain the limited locations and it seems the need to get the most out of them. Which also adds a claustrophobic feel and intensity in some scenes. It’s what helps make the film feel vivid and livens up the film to a degree. When there isn’t necessarily that much action going on.

Like the film the characters come off as stylish by being a bit off style yet quirky. As they double down on their beliefs and lifestyle. The film seems at time off center but knows where it is going even if the audience doesn’t. So that it is a journey for us. So you have to depend on the film to guide you. Yet you always feels safe though easily distracted and discombobulated.

It can easily be seen as a film about puberty. Where you are a threat to some and you struggle to find where you belong who is your group, pack as well as getting attention you are not used to and it feeling like an onslaught like you are being hunted. Not sure who you can trust as some turn on you that easily or are using you to a degree. Where the wrong move seems like it could be your peril. So that it almost paralyzed you or makes you very fragile.

The film can sometimes feel moody as it stays strange, but still manages to stay sweet and never is boring.

The film Actually feels like an Australian NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Only from a girls point of view you can see the flourishes of a Wes Anderson film in the design. It’s easy to compare as it seems nostalgic but of it’s own imagination. Though it’s cinematic style seems simple but also expressive and deadpan that at times seems to try too hard but after awhile you get used to it as it becomes too common.

It’s not one of the first or only film to be taken from a girl’s point of view when it deals with a conning of age story. Though it is rare that we get to see a story of so much awkwardness. So much so that the third act is more of a fantasy story.

The film does deal with sex but it doesn’t make it as heavy an issue or something that permeates almost every scene and decision that the character makes. Which is a welcome change. Even if it doesn’t all make sense at first.

The film even has continuing action in the background to keep you your eyes busy and a full experience that keeps you on your toes. That makes everything feel amplified.

Grade: B-

GREASE 2 (1982)

Directed By: Patricia Birch 
Written By: Ken Finkelman
Based On Characters Created By: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey 
Cinematography: Frank Stanley 
Editor: John F. Burnett

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Maxwell Caulfield, Didi Conn, Lorna Luft, Pamela Segall, Adrian Zmed, Eve Arden, Sid Caeser, Connie Stevens, Christopher McDonald, Tab Hunter

Two years after the life-altering events in Grease. Sandy’s cousin Michael, a straight-laced English student, is the new guy at Rydell High. Stephanie, the Pink Ladies’ foxy blonde leader, is about to break up with Johnny, the T-Birds’ leader, but she still likes her men dangerous, even as Michael starts to attract her attention. Now Michael needs to up his game: learn how to ride a motorcycle and transform himself into Stephanie’s hot leather-clad fantasy. Is he up to the task?


Directed by a noted choreographer Patricia birch. Who was the choreographer for the first film. The film’s showmanship is all there unfortunately the film isn’t. As it feels like a rerun of what we have already seen. 

This film is the epitome of 1950’s nostalgia that seems to be big in the 1980s. Though also an unneeded sequel.

I loved this movie as a kid. Watching it so many times. Even owning the soundtrack which I managed to get again a few years ago and enjoying it. As I know quite a few songs by heart. The songs are catchy and actually pretty good, but unfortunately still as memorable as the first film or its songs.

As there it comes off as an inferior copy that isn’t quite as sharp at all. It’s duller and the cast isn’t as memorable as their roles seem more uninspired. Making the t-birds more idiotic and not tough.

Though the characters trying to carry on in the grand legend and showing that they fall short isn’t intentional. It pretty much sums up this movie and its relationship to the first film.

Here they come off as imposing yet more jokes and comic relief caricatures as they Aren’t threatening. It’s an interesting case study in trying to act cool when truly scared in the role that you choose.

Everyone tries to give it they’re all but watching certain things come standing out. Such as it’s set in the 1950s yet Michelle Pfeiffer seems to be the only character who dresses in 1980s (when the film was made) fashion. This also helps showcase her future stardom as she definitely shows star potential more than anyone else. The movie is a true stepping stone for her

Other than most of the cast being obviously Too old to play teenagers. You can tell everyone in the background is a dancer just waiting to start dancing and singing on camera. Especially when it comes to their enthusiastic acting and facial movements.

It’s also ridiculous that no one can recognize the cool rider as Michael. As he doesn’t really change his voice. Only lowers it, and even though he wears a helmet he takes it off and only wears goggles that are barely shaded.

He even makes out with Michelle Pfeiffer and she never still recognizes him. Then singing the big number HANDS OF TIME comes off as one of the most unintentionally overblown ridiculous numbers. 

No one is truly a character. They all play types. It doesn’t help that unfortunately, Maxwell Caulfield has the looks but his singing can’t hit certain notes.

Even his plans to seduce her come off as douche. As they are more about manipulation and falsehoods. Even if the film tries to portray it as some kind of cute romantic turn. As he is basically dishonest throughout with her. 

Though the film is a cash-in. The production also has earnestness and energy. As well as campy as hell. Even if the plan was a quick cash-in and hoping to ride the success of the first film for the producer Allan Carr. Though the script for a proposed third film was resurrected later and made into HIGH SCHOOL THE MUSICAL. 

Grade: C

THE NEW GUY (2002)

Directed By: Ed Decter
Written By: David Kendall
Cinematography: Michael D. O’Shea
Editor: David Rennie 

Cast: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Parry Shen, Jerod Mixon, Sunny Mabrey, Ross Patterson, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Griffin, Ileana Douglas, Kurt fuller, Matt shogun, M.C. Gainey, Julius Carry, Geoffrey Lewis, Horatio Sanz, Gene Simmons, Kool Moe Dee, Tommy Lee, Henry Rollins, Jermaine Dupri, Jerry O’Connell, Charlie O’Connell, Tony Hawk, Rob Van Winkle 

A high school senior branded uncool in the ninth grade gets himself expelled so he changes his image to cool kid at the town’s other high school.


The film is strange as it is a teen comedy that seems at times to be more of a spoof. Then it just becomes more of a wacky comedy that comes off more as abstract and slapstick but still makes little sense.

Though considering it is directed by a noted comedy writer. Who coincidentally didn’t write the script. So that the film feels cut up from a decidedly longer and more coherent film. Though it doesn’t matter as this is a film you just watch and have fun with what it offers. 

It’s also a movie that is built to build off of trends of the time.

Which would explain the strange number of cameos by rock stars and skaters and recognizable celebrities playing themselves and others throughout for no real reason. 

Though it might hint at, What does end up being truthful about the movie is the character’s passion for music. As it seems to almost be their everything. 

For instance, Lyle Lovett’s Father character makes no sense at all, but he is in the movie throughout. As the Square dad who seems to try to relate and overreact  to his son and his actions 

While the film feels like it got cut to pieces as some storylines and characters disappear or are never resolved. So that instead of plot or character the film tries to give you a Greatest hits version of the story. 

Which makes it feel more like a Frankenstein of teen film cliches. You have seen before Only more heightened and campy comedically. There is even a scene where Eliza Dushku’s character goes to apologize to an old friend who she has shunned and snubbed only for that friend to say “I know” before she can say anything 

Most of the female roles here are more as sex objects and hook up’s. Even Dushku the female lead has two scenes of first her trying in various scantily Clad outfits like bikinis and another scene of her riding a mechanical bull suggestively. More for a male teenage audience. Though she is both the love interest and sex symbol of the film.

The film builds off star Dj Qualls fame from ROAD TRIP. As an early version of McLovin from SUPERBAD. As his character goes from

Dork to cool in a new attitude and look with a lot of Farrelly brothers style comedy. That is gross yet heartwarming and manages to win the Audience over.

The film gave DJ Qualls the rare odd Leading man role. Even if the film Tries to play like more of an ensemble at times. 

Sure the film’s humor is lowbrow but still comes off as innocent or like it doesn’t know any better. Though with it’s juvenile humor it’s

Perfect for its intended audience. Though definitely a testament to the time period in which it was made.

It is filled to the brim with what was hip, but trends change so fast that by the time the film Actually was released. It felt a little past its Time to the audience and worse the film is so low stakes. It doesn’t Make its Mark. 

If anything this movie is more. A guilty pleasure that gets by because of its Silly and fun attitude. This film is put together very loosely with plenty of gags meant to tie the story and characters together with a moral lesson of not labeling and not believing in whatever labels you are branded with. 

GRADE: C

THE ULTIMATE PLAYLIST OF NOISE (2021)

Directed by: Bennett Lasseter
Written By: Mitchell Winkie
Cinematography: Vincent Patin 
Editor: Robin Gonsalves 

Cast: Keean Johnson, Madeline Brewer, Bonnie Hunt, Ian Gomez, Rya Kihlstedt, Oliver Cooper, Carol Mansell, Emily Skeggs, Ariela Barer, Jake Weary 

Marcus, an audio-obsessed high school senior, learns he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf, and decides to seize control of his fate by recording the Ultimate Playlist of Noise.


As it goes down like a nice teen drama. It’s dramatic, funny, and heartwarming by the end. If this wasn’t already a young adult novel, it should have been.

We watch the natural growing pains, trials, and tribulations that most of us go through. Only here the main character is kind of an obsessive nerd. Whose main interests are music and putting together playlists. 

Then his passions come together in a cute young lady who is a musician and sends his heart flutter. Which happens to come into His life when he has learned of a condition that will rob him of his hearing and separating him from his favorite thing music.

While the film plays on romance it also becomes a road trip movie. So we get the eccentric, strange whimsy of the characters and traveling.

What is refreshing about this film is that it’s not a typical love story. As it has romantic moves but cuts them short offering genuine surprises from where you might think some moments are going in a good way. Like him having his first kiss.

It does try to show the beauty in supposedly the mundane. 

The film is more about bonding with a stranger and becoming so close that you can open up to them. The story more or less comes across as one of the connections between two people and inspiring one another to go face their fears and also learn to accept things. Deal with them and learn to live with it.

Even if staying somewhat predictable story-wise. There will be love involved, not romantic and not the kind where even if there was it could save you from yourself or help you outrun your problems. 

The film doesn’t offer a false or empty story. Where we are left to wonder what happens next or after that but should feel rest assured in just the here and now. 

Grade: B-

WEAPONS (2007)

Written & Directed By: Adam Bhala Lough Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro Editor: Jay Rabinowitz 

Cast: Nick Cannon, Paul Dano, Mark Webber, Riley Smith, John Campo, Regine Nahu, Brandon Mychel Smith. Arliss Howard, Aris Mendoza,  Amy Ferguson, Serena Reeder, Jade Yorker 

Weapons present a series of brutal, seemingly random youth-related killings over the course of a weekend in a typical small town in America, and tragically reveals how they are all interrelated.


The film’s structure is Tight and how it begins with a shocking and graphic scene. Then the rest of the film explores how we got to that event by following different characters’ experiences or their own points of view. Leading up to one event where it is handed off to a character who was more in the background of the last character P.O.V.

I don’t like the film but I can’t Lie. It has you as an audience member thinking about it a lot for a few days after. But I can’t say if I didn’t like it because it’s a gruesome story that I felt didn’t need to be told and had no real desire to ever see again or did one just not like the film. 

In its own way. The film tries to have a message of what is going down on the streets with teenagers at the time. it makes no real decisions. It doesn’t condemn nor does it celebrate these kid’s behavior, but tries to show it in simple terms. No gloss, no glory but it still feels wrong.

It’s like wanna-be kids but with more violence and a lot less sex. It just ends up being very disturbing.

It bothers you the way the characters really don’t care about anything or have no fear of the future. Where their actions might lead. The only time we get a glimpse is when Nick Cannon’s character has second thoughts about a decision he has been dead set to do. Then another person takes the decision out of his hands and does it for him. 

You truly feel sorry for most of the characters. Except two by the end. The kids seem so narcissistic. They are impervious to dangerous and shocking things that lie before them.

Plus the director attempts a gritty realism. Which he gets but some scenes could be easily cut down. I’m all for realism but they go on long. Where the characters do absolutely nothing and don’t add to the film overall or characters unless they are supposed to be as bored as the audience.

One question that was left with where are all the parents The whole time? That bothers you and no answers are offered.

What worked against the film was seeing established actors mixed in with the novices. You could tell the difference. It seems real but when you see nick cannon or someone else familiar. It instantly takes you out and reminds you that it’s a movie. No matter how good and believable he is, which is shocking.

This is definitely not a movie teenagers should see, but maybe parents should at least scare them To pay more attention to their kids.

So this worst-case scenario doesn’t happen to them. As this film keeps leaning towards the artistic

This film feels like it goes overboard to be shocking and provocative. It ends up coming out more exploitive. that’s educating the audience and trying to confirm the worst fears of the viewers 

GRADE: C- 

ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT (2008)

Directed by: Brett Simon  Written By: Kevin Jakubowski & Tim Calpin  Cinematography: M. David Mullen  Editor: William Anderson & Thomas J. Nordberg

Cast: Mischa Barton, Reece Daniel Thompson, Bruce Willis, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Morris, Melonie Diaz, Zoe Kravitz, Josh Pais, Luke Grimes, Joe Perrino, Aaron Himelstein, John Magaro, Robin Lord Taylor, Vincent Piazza, Adam Pally, Emily Meade, Quinn Shephard

At a Catholic high school, a sophomore newspaper reporter investigates a case of stolen SAT exams. He thinks he’s nailed the suspect and managed to get the popular girl when he realizes a larger conspiracy is afoot.


While the film has its own quirky charm. It also tries too hard to be stylish and set itself apart. Calling attention to itself but by doing that it also allows us to notice its flaws

As the film tries to be a cross of a political conspiracy thriller mixed with a film noir film all set in high school. Which is cynical and surprisingly dark. It tries so hard to be an accessible version of brick yet keeping it high school-related that it dilutes itself and comes off seeming like it is trying too hard rather than just existing.

From the beginning, we know Mischa Barton’s character is the femme fatale but she gives an ice queenish Performance that while enticing you never know what drives all these guys so crazy over her. As she plays the role so stiff. Her face barely moves even when she is taking or trying to emote or seduce. Though the film does try to more exploit her looks and body to be an irresistible bombshell

Bruce Willis adds star power to the film. Even though his role is a major one. He is barely in it and the writing of his character isn’t that great or strong that you would understand why he would choose to take a small supporting role in this film.

Feels like it tries too hard to be a tawdry BRICK rip-off. Only with a bigger name cast.

Making a kind of teen film-noir conspiracy thriller movie. That stays more within its own Confines but still has the danger and sex all around. Though none of the hard-boiled language

Grade: D+

I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER (2009)

Directed By: Chris Columbus 
Written By: Larry Doyle (Based Upon his novel)
Cinematography: Phil Abraham
Editor: Peter Honess

Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London, Lauren Storm, Shawn Roberts, Jared Kesso, Brendan Penny, Alan Ruck, Pat Finn, Andrea Savage, Samm Levine 

A nerdy valedictorian proclaims his love for Beth Cooper–the hottest, most popular girl in school–during his graduation speech. That very night, she shows up at his door offering to show him the best night of his life.


I really loved the book this film is based on as it truly felt like a zany romantic comedy. While Playing in the expectations of a 1980’s style teen comedy. Yet had heart and twisted those expectations for the better. Still remaining identifiable and had just the right amount of Comedy, love, sex, and romance with a downbeat yet realistic ending.

I believe I feel so sharply and savagely about the film that it is my favorite coming-of-age romantic comedy and comes from a long line of films about getting to know your dream girl cinema. Where usually she never measures up to your expectations and the cute girl who was your friend is truly the one you were looking for or she Falls in love with you and you end up happily ever after. But this story also reminds us we have been there. When a crush is so overpowering that you fall For the idea of someone and not the actual person. 

Maybe I am taking the failure of quality when it comes to this film a little personally. Considering how much of a fan I was of the book. This was the film that made me really become worried when a book adaptation was made of a book I enjoyed. Even when it seemed like it was in capable hands. 

This coming from a man who read THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES novel adaptation before the movie, because the movie kept being sold out in its first week of release. While I eventually Loved the movie the adaptation for me was so much better and rich 

Not only was this film a big disappointment compared to the book. It would be even if you haven’t read the book. 

What was worse is how far it felt like Chris Columbus had fallen either not getting the material or being that far removed from it that he tried so hard with something he doesn’t seem to understand by making it far too general. What might have once been special feels generic. Maybe he was burned out from the HARRY POTTER films he helped produce and decided to Ames this project too quickly as the return to directing or was playing by 1980’s MTV teen movie rules in a more modern age and no one updated him about cultural and stylish change.

Is that this movie was made by writer/director Chris Columbus who is talented and is behind many teen and children’s movies before such as directing some and producing the Harry Potter series of films. Here he seems to have lost his touch or showing his age. As he would seem Like a Perfect choice for the material especially after returning to directing after a brief absence. Here he seems out of place.

Not to mention though the cast is likable they most ultimately feel miscast and instead of playing characters. Play more character types or fill in’s who never get to have a real personality.

The film is a mess as lead Paul Rust who fits the nerdy look but is so obviously too old to play the role. Which makes him look more like a child molester than a romantic leading man. 

The casting of Hayden Panettiere as the female lead is understandable. As she was a hot commodity at the time on a hit show. So this was her stab at being a big-screen movie star. She is good as the lead. As she is plucky yet she is supposed to be so memorable and her character isn’t. Especially not for the lead to go through all this trouble. As they live in a small town and while she is cute. Never see the World Class beauty she supposedly has. She comes across more as temptation or a more Willing femme fatale. 

Her friends in the film don’t exactly help. Casting Lauren London who could have played the lead more convincingly. As she has more a

World-class beauty and here is relegated to second fiddle with little to do or add to the story. Along with Lauren Storm, who is Just thick, and his best friend who gets the fantasy sex scene to become A Reality. Though comes off lame. 

Just like the casting of Hayden Panettiere the film tries too hard to fit in and be all things to all people and instead makes itself unhip and show that this is an older crowd either trying to influence youth or trying to fit in. 

The story is about expectations versus reality. The movie comes off more like a zany comedy where nothing feels honest or direct. It has a harsh ending where reality sets in. In the book, it feels more cruel yet just fine. Making home realize he has to put away childish things on the path to adulthood.

In the film, she seems just dropped and feels like an ending of hope while also getting a version of what he wants. Though lacking a kissing scene as if they did. It might look like a promotion of pedophilia. 

One aspect that is truly surprising other than the casting. Whereas every character doesn’t Look like a model so it does feel and look more like regular small-town folks. 

The film looks washed out. Like they are trying to make the Midwest surroundings dull. So you can see why some can’t wait to escape this town and for some, it’s a forever 

The worst crime the film makes is that it took a book of some merit and made it look generic. The lowly inspired teen film made by people too old and trying too hard to be down. Who ends up faking the funk.

Not all Of this falls on Columbus’ shoulders as the novel’s writer did own the screenplay also. If this was made today it feels like it would have been a limited series. 

Grade: F

DOWN TO YOU (2000)

Written & Directed by: Kris Issacson 
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Editor: Stephen A. Rooter

Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, Rosario Dawson, Shawn Hatosy, Zak Orth, Ashton Kutcher, Henry Winkler, Lucie Arnaz, Lauren German, Lola Glaudini, Adam Carolla, Jimmy Kimmel 

A young man wins and loses the first serious love of his life. Al Connelly falls in love with the girl of his dreams. After the summer she breaks up with him. As he tries to recover Al goes to desperate measures.


This was after Miramax studios had a hit with the movie SHE’S ALL THAT and seemingly green-lit a bunch of teen aimed romantic comedies. Usually starring their golden boy at the time Freddie Prinze Jr.

This feels like a budgeted student film for a studio release. Everything looks cheap and garish. As it feels amateurish in direction and story.

The film is a simple romance story about a relationship and distractions as well as temptations and the influence of friends who rotate around them.

Selma Blair plays a temptress and Freddie Prinze Jr’s crush but the film Never makes her look that attractive or tempting. Maybe because they make her more television teen movie friendly, a woman of the world supposedly who comes off like the movie and it’s character pretentious but have nothing to even back any of that up with. 

Rosario Dawson seems to be cast only to add some diversity, for Julia Stiles’ character to have one constant friend of her own. Even Dawson is barely used except to add stoner humor to the film. Why the only minority character for that? 

You have seen this type of film a thousand times, much better. This adds nothing new or original to the formula.

The worst is that the film believes itself witty. When it is clearly not. As obviously this film again is made more for teens than the older ones? Just going by subject matter. Though plays more for a younger audience as their ultimate idea of love and romance.

Maybe because it is set in college that everything comes off as what college can be frugal, fun, and messy with bad taste. Yet believing yourself sophisticated with glaze drunken confidence and room For plenty of overcompensation. 

Mainly because we get to know these characters. Yet never become interested in them. 

The film tries to be true to and force the time periods and is adorable. Like putting them In a blender filled with the then-current themes and styles. Trying to be naughty or edgy yet cool but so watered down to make it feel dormant and dull.

The film has a particularly uninspired music Video playback that feels like how one would play if the director needed to over compose with dialogue for lacking any visual panache or he’s forced into that Miramax/Dimension romantic teen comedy formula. 

The soundtrack is filled with basic or generic general music that might have been popular at the time. Except for a song from the band  Cibo Matto

To give the film a kind of indie feel. Not to mention matching its College setting and fits the film’s mindset. 

The film is a familiar tale where all the fun feels taken out of the way. While trying to seem fun. Including somehow cross-promoting with THE MAN SHOW.

The film does offer some creative touches and luckily has a cast of recognizable actors before and during their popularity. 

GRADE: D

TOTALLY FUCKED UP (1993)

 Written, Directed, Edited & Cinematography by: Greg Araki

Cast: James Duval, Roko Belil, Susan Behshid, Jenee Gill, Gilbert Luna, Lance May, Alan Boyce, Craig Gilmore, Johanna West

Life really sucks for a group of gay and lesbian teenagers living in Los Angeles. Their parents kicked them out, they’re broke and bored, their lovers cheat on them, they’re harassed by gay-bashers. If things are going to be this way, maybe suicide isn’t a bad idea; at least not in the mind of Andy, our major protagonist, who gives the film its title by describing himself as “totally fucked up.


This film plays out more experimental than his last film. This film more examines days in the life of a group of friends. We get to see their videotaped confessions and each seeks to show their own little stories that overlap. So they end up all having their adventures. 

That watching the film feels ahead of its time as it comes off a little like the reality show, THE REAL WORLD but also what social media would become eventually. 

As from the first frame of a new clipping about teenage suicide in the gay community. We know what the film will be tackling not that it will eventually be prophetic 

If the audience does as we watch we try to figure out who will either try or allow themselves to do that. 

The film at the time was one of the most penetrating looks at LGBTQ youth that includes sex reckless and romantic and facing consequences for being themselves such as parents throwing them out, infidelity, random violence, looking for love in all the wrong places and people. 

It sets a blueprint for later teenage dramas that were diverse and more hard-hitting in the new Millenium 

This film was actually not as bleak as his previous film. At least not until the ending where we get a dark ending but also feelings. Which the film Seems to lack. As like the teen’s characters. They play up a certain persona but each is vulnerable that they hide from each other. 

The film stays upbeat and energetic throughout and then comes a heaven ending. Whereas THE LIVING END seems so hell-bent on nihilism until the end where it offers actually hope.

This film still has an avant-garde presentation and punk rock attitude and Sensibility. As well as the soundtrack, but surpassingly by the end it also feels like a hardcore after-school special.

The more artistic expression throughout the film. Can be hard to take, even as it breaks up and focuses on characters. Some in the audience might want more story or action throughout. If that is what you seek you came to the wrong movie.

Watching this now through a modern lens. This film is ahead of its time but could have only been made when it was. As it is penetrating and a nice time capsule of the times. Style and politics and just day-to-day life.

This would also be the first of many collaborations between director Greg Araki and actor/star James Duval 

Grade: B-