Judge Ike Oden needs a Tylenol.
"Let's smoke some pot!"
Jonah (John Patrick Amedori , Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) is an awkward hipster. We know this because he has a Ramones haircut and voluntarily reads beat poetry to his private school classmates. The latter move catches the eye of the coveted popular girl Sara (Lizzy Caplan, Cloverfield), who finds his mumbling awkwardness inexplicably appealing. Following graduation, Jonah crashes the party of rich hyper-stud Lucas (D.J. Cotrona, Dear John, who is ready to jettison Jonah's nerd-ass to the pavement until he finds out the hipster works in a pharmacy. Faster than you can say Drug Store Cowboy the clique of Lucas, Sarah, rich bitch Erin (Jenny Wade, Feast II: Sloppy Seconds), and boy toy Troy (Jonathan Trent, Alone With Her) are ready to cash in their anti-geek chips in exchange for some sweet pills. Jonah complies, hoping to get some sexual Sarah action on the side. Instead, he's dragged into a world of—choke!—drug addiction, hedonism, deceit and murder.
Addicted To Her Love fits neatly into the "teens-behaving-badly" tradition of indie films. A blurb on the cover says its "Fast Times At Ridgemont High meets Kids," though I'd say it's more Less Than Zero meets Larry Clark—minus a sense of pseudo-pederast voyeurism. A lack of creepy underage sex is about the only compliment I can give Addicted To Her Love, a lamentably predictable, pretentious by-the-numbers drama that plays out like an overblown film school thesis, but was written and produced by filmmakers old enough to know better.
The film's biggest problem is the screenplay by Wesley Strick and Steve Allison. Allison is new on the movie scene, with Addicted being his only finished IMDb credit. The audio commentary reveals he was a friend of the director-big surprise there. Strick is best known as the scribe behind such high-concept horror fodder as Arachnophobia, Cape Fear (1991), and Wolf. In recent years, he's known for his work on such contemporary classics as Doom, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), and the film in question. Wes, I'm just wondering, what the hell happened? We can understand the grueling studio executive notes, outside re-writes, and studio buffoonery that make for the usual "this-is-why-my-movie-sucks" excuses, but with the film in question, you're IMDb batting average isn't looking super spectacular.
Like Elm Street, the film reads like a Platinum Dunes remake, but without the added support of seeing shallow bastard teens slaughtered by a revamped movie monster. The film manages to be horrific without a slasher killer, boasting characters that reach beyond the limits of thin into a void of pure nothing that will drive the viewer to the brink of madness within the first act. This experience is stretched over 98 seemingly infinite minutes of characters being rich, drug addled, angsty, and separated based on neat little stereotypes. The only note Strick and Allison seem to overlook is the token minority. Darn.
The behind-the-scenes featurette reveals a lot about the directorial process of music video maestro Elliott Lester. He breaks down his directorial choices into three categories: hand-held is used for when the characters are acting like kids, static shots are utilized when they're trying to be adult, and things get all shaky and frenetic for the wild and crazy party scenes. I pity the arrogant folly of directors like Roger Avary, whose similar Rules of Attraction went to all that trouble crafting heavily storyboarded, stylistic party set pieces. If only he got Lester's memo, he could've finished the film in one, maybe two weeks. Who cares if it makes the cinematography schizophrenic at best. Who cares if its quote-unquote-uninspired. Lester is a visionary of the first order, as evidenced by his frequent use of "I," "me," and "mine" when describing the process of giving birth to "his" movie. Lester also cites the cars being driven in the film as a major reason for making the film. I don't have to tell you this guy has a bright future in the film business as a studio flunkie. Fingers crossed!
The film's cast uses their collective thespian voodoo to try to give the material life, but it's a lost cause. They perform admirably and can't be faulted after admitting to having "no direction" in the aforementioned featurette. Of special note is Daryl Hannah, whose awful wig and make-up make her character of Jonah's mother look more cracked out than the central characters. Yikes.
Video wise, we're treated to a spectacularly fuzzy 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, with mild pixel bursts and knicks in the opening that even out as the movie progresses. The 5.1 audio is a pop-music friendly mix, sporting mediocre dialogue so clear you'll feel like ripping your eardrums out with an ice pick. To sum it up, it's a serviceable technical presentation appropriate for an indie film of this sort.
Besides the laugh-out-loud talking heads on display in the featurette ("I think my character is supposed to be a guy you feel bad for when he dies," is just a sample of the Ricky Gervais-ian audio morsels) we're given a pretty bland commentary with Lester and lead actor Armedi. The two are pretty lively and pleasant with one another, highlighting the images with such riveting behind the scenes tidbits as "Our lead actress didn't want to wear a bikini this day, even though it's a pool scene," and "Yeah. Isn't this a great song?." The track's self-congratulatory tone made excellent fuel for this review. Also on hand is a trailer and photo gallery, for all you horn dogs who can't get enough Lizzy Caplan bikini shots .
I'm going to go ahead recommend Wesley Strick a voluntary sabbatical from writing anything related to teenagers ever, ever again. Elliott Lester and co-writer Allison are put on suicide watch until this whole DVD release thing blows over. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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