New Video // 2010 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // January 24th, 2012
Power To The Picked On!
An official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010, Beware the Gonzo marks the directorial debut of Bryan Goluboff, whose screenwriting credits include The Basketball Diaries and In Treatment.
Kicked off the school newspaper for not toeing the line, Eddie "Gonzo" Gilman (Ezra Miller, Royal Pains) decides it's high time someone stood up for the geeks and misfits of his school, and so launches his own rival paper. Aided by a small group of friends, and the mysterious Evie (Zoe Kravitz, X-Men: First Class), Eddie's paper causes a storm at the school as it dishes the dirt on the cool kids -- and even brings about the closure of the school canteen. The paper brings about a shift in power at the school, which sees top pupil and editor of the school newspaper, Gavin Reilly (Jesse McCartney), finding his status put at risk, leading to his attempts to destroy Eddie's reputation.
Worse is to come, as Eddie's increasing popularity sees him risk losing sight of the values he once so nobly stood for.
The truth is that the central theme that lies at the heart of Beware the Gonzo -- that being the high school underdogs fighting back against the jocks and cool kids -- in nothing new. Still, give credit to writer-director Bryan Goluboff, for although his film tells a familiar tale, it tells it with a fresh accent that deserves to find an audience on DVD.
Though billed as a comedy, Goluboff's film actually works much better as an expose on the downtrodden and ridiculed for whom high school is more a test of endurance rather than the "best days" of their lives. Although one could argue that these characters are all stereotypes, from the bullied geek to the popular jock in need of a reality check, in Goluboff's hands they are blessed with layers that ensure they are far more rounded than they might initially appear. In fact, so convincing are these characters, that many of the situations depicted -- particularly the callous way in which (some) young men tarnish the reputations of young girls for the sake of their own ego -- rang incredibly true with my own experiences of high school; so much so, in fact, that I actually found myself getting angry. Better yet, Beware the Gonzo is not a film of black and white, where the good guys can do no wrong. Thanks to some astute writing on Goluboff's part, we are reminded how even the most well-intentioned actions can have devastating consequences, as is seen when Eddie attempts to rebuild the fractured reputation of someone he deeply cares for.
As already touched upon, Beware the Gonzo is lightweight at best as a comedy. That said, it's a well-humored film with a few jokes that standout, with "Horny" Rob (Griffin Newman) -- the amorous geek who hits on the school misfits -- scoring each time he's on screen. For the most part, however, the humor is more likely to keep a smile on your face than have you gasping for air, as the film aims for something more insightful than the usual teen flick.
There's something immensely likeable about Beware the Gonzo, and a great deal of that likeability stems from the note-perfect cast, with leading man Ezra Miller carrying the bulk of the film on his young shoulders with aplomb. It would have been very easy for Miller to have allowed Eddie's self assurance and bravado to become overbearing, thus making the character difficult to connect with. Instead, Miller focuses on his character's idealism, which is best captured when Eddie realizes few people care for the truth when a malicious lie can prove more entertaining. Perhaps the cast member with the most difficult role is Zoe Kravitz, who plays schoolgirl with a reputation, Evie. Miss Kravitz is an attractive young woman, and has an effortless level of cool about her person, so the fact that she is able to so beautifully convey the damaged nature of Evie's character and really connect with the viewer, is a testament to her acting talent.
The DVD sports a clean transfer, with a good level of detail. Colors seem a little muted, while black levels remain strong. Dialogue is clear, though there's very little dynamic about the mix as the film's indie soundtrack rarely explodes into life. A selection of interviews and deleted scenes make up the special features.
Containing a little more substance than your average teen flick, Beware the Gonzo is an amusing, affectionate, quirky, and wholly entertaining look at high school life, and should not be missed.
Review content copyright © 2012 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site