You're only 17 once. For Jones Dillon, it's one time too many.
When I requested to review this movie, I had it confused with another Mandy Moore flick (How to Deal, as it turns out, which won't be released until December), so I was surprised when I started watching and realized Elijah Wood is the real star of the movie and Mandy is only a supporting character. I have nothing against our dear Mr. Frodo; it's just not the movie I was expecting.
And I wish it had been, because while watching this movie, I couldn't help thinking "All I Want is for this movie to be over, All I Want is to pretend this movie was never made…All I Want is 93 minutes of my life back."
Facts of the Case
Jones Dillon (Elijah Wood) is 17 and starting his freshman year of college. He has no desire to do so, but is required to by the stipulations of his rich grandfather's will. Nevertheless, scarred by bad experiences with his roommate and others on campus, Jones quits school after one day and leases an apartment (paying the entire $12,000 of rent for the year in one lump sum). Sharing the building with him are Jane (Franka Potente), who first greets Jones with a pepper spray to the face, and Lisa (Mandy Moore), whose greeting is much more cordial.
Jones and Lisa get friendlier, but his connection with Jane turns out to be the stronger one. Both a little kooky, they fit together more easily, which suits Jane and her rivalry with Lisa just fine. As these relationships progress, we learn of Jones' rocky history with his alcoholic mother (Elizabeth Perkins) and his desire to find the father he barely knew yet obsesses about daily. We learn about Jane's previous relationship and why she and Lisa are so antagonistic towards each other. And we learn about Jones' aspirations—he fancies himself a writer—and watch as he imagines life rather than living it. Will Jane be the one to drag him from fantasy to reality?
All I Want is not a good movie, plain and simple. Its pacing is slow, its plot doesn't make sense, its dialogue is cringe-worthy, and its characters are so irritating and strange that you can't possibly care whether they live or die. And, to top it all off, the two lead characters (Jones and Jane) have the chemistry of siblings; I recoiled at their every even-remotely-sexual encounter.
Does this movie have anything going for it? Yes, its acting—well, to a degree, anyway. Not surprisingly, Elijah Wood, Franka Potente, Elizabeth Perkins, and even Mandy Moore turn in quality, skilled performances. But the supporting cast—the other building residents, the furniture store owner's sons, etc.—don't follow their lead, unfortunately, and they negate any benefit the lead actors may have introduced into the movie.
As this movie progressed, I found my sense of humor degrading. Does this ever happen to you? The longer you watch something that's supposed to be funny but just isn't, the more you start to think maybe it really is funny. And you start laughing at it just to be able to laugh. I can't remember the exact "joke" that put me over the edge, but I do remember realizing, as the laughter escaped my throat, that it really wasn't funny at all. It was too late, though; I had already sunk to their level.
All I Want is riddled with fantasy sequences, brought on by Jones' active imagination while writing. I understand the reason for the fantasies—Jones is living in the world he creates when he writes, not in the real world, so that should be portrayed—but this is at least the third movie I've watched recently that relies on such sequences, and, frankly, I'm little bored with the technique. There must be a better way.
The transfers for this disc are surprisingly good, considering how unbelievably bad the movie is. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is free of errors and provides a sharp picture with bright colors, although the blacks are not quite as black as they should be. The 5.1 surround audio track is, as I said, more than I expected for this movie. But its good balances and full sound are welcomed.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Mandy Moore's in her underwear—red underwear to be exact—so there should be nothing more to say.
Haven't I made myself clear? All I Want is a tragedy, and not in the Shakespearean sense. Stay far away from it.
For wasting the talents of Elijah Wood (and others), All I Want is sentenced to be carried to Mordor and destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom.
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Scales of Justice
• Trailers for All I Want, The Debut, Big Girls Don't Cry, Gigli
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