Since Judge Christopher Kulik was old enough to review this movie, we assigned it to him.
It was a summer they would never forget.
The summer looks pretty dull for 12-year-old Lonnie (Sarah Boyd), an upper-class Brooklyn tomboy now knocking on puberty's door. Lonnie's home life leaves much to be desired. Her parents are over-demanding, her little sister Diane (Alyssa Milano, Charmed) is a pain in the rump, and she's expected to take a bus a summer camp every day. Things begin to brighten up when she meets Karen (Rainbow Harvest, Mirror Mirror), a quasi-rebellious teenager with a penchant for shoplifting. Soon Lonnie and Karen become fast friends, but numerous circumstances put their seesaw friendship in jeopardy—especially when Lonnie develops a crush on Karen's older brother Johnny (Neill Barry, O.C. And Stiggs).
This semi-autobiographical film is structured by writer-director Marisa Silver (Permanent Record) like a memoir, as these two girls come of age during an intensely hot summer in the inner city. The film begins like a precursor to Thirteen, although it's more about friendship than peer pressure; it takes us in unusual directions as both Lonnie and Karen confide in one another, yearning for a certain kind of happiness and independence that's impossible to obtain given their respective domestic situations.
Something tells me I would have appreciated Old Enough more if I were a teenage girl. Many times I was enlightened, yet frustrations came about every time I got fully involved in these two girls' lives.
Silver is clearly reminiscing about a particularly confusing chapter in her life, but the storytelling of Old Enough is uneven and not entirely rewarding. She admirably chooses an unpredictable route, although it becomes somewhat repetitive; every time an outside character got between Lonnie and Karen, they become estranged and briefly separate. This strategy taints the mood more often than not because the our primary interest is with the growing friendship between Lonnie and Karen. When it sticks to the girl's talking, it's great; when it insists on injecting these one-dimensional adult characters at awkward times, however, it goes astray.
In several ways, Old Enough reminds me of My Bodyguard, a 1980 movie about the growing friendship between two boys in downtown Chicago. In both movies, the characters hail from wildly different social and economical circles whilst constantly dealing with outside forces threatening the bond they have forged. The difference is My Bodyguard actually took time in establishing the boys' friendship through discussion and realization; Old Enough tends to zigzag from one situation to the next, with the tone jumping from oddly comical to dramatically aloof. Eventually, Old Enough loses focus in the second half when we are subjected to a subplot involving an attractive hairstylist named Carla (Roxanne Hart, Chicago Hope) who moves into Karen's building.
What ultimately makes Old Enough watchable are the honest performances from Boyd and Harvest. Neither went on to bigger things; Harvest left acting in 1991 while Boyd has become a modestly successful film editor. Boyd is such a natural talent expressing her longings and desires with not only her dialogue but also her facial reactions and attitude. Harvest tends to shift gears a bit too often on an emotional level, but she harbors an underlying spunk that's absorbing. Barry is merely ok as the older brother, as he's more of a distraction than an advantage when it comes to the story. Academy Award nominee Danny Aiello (Do The Right Thing) makes an appearance as Karen's father. Credit should also be given to Silver who, if anything, exhibits a keen eye for detail and reflection.
Scorpion Releasing delivers Old Enough in a swell DVD package. The 1.78:1 widescreen master has been given a hi-definition makeover; the results are on the soft side, but grain is absent pretty much the entire time. Black levels are quite strong as well. The mono track is more than acceptable, as dialogue comes through fine, though there are no subtitles or closed captioning. The disc is region-free. Extras include a commentary with Silver and Boyd which tends to be on the dry side; they provide some information, but silent gaps are evident throughout. Both look back on the shoot with affection, and they touch upon the reception at the Cannes Film Festival. Scorpion has also included a 10-minute interview with Roxanne Hart, who discusses what she remembers about the shoot.
Slight, but not guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
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