Judge Franck Tabouring wouldn't date this suburban girl.
Rewriting her dream in the big city.
Suburban Girl may have all it takes to qualify as an average Hollywood romantic comedy, but the film failed to snatch a theatrical release and ended up going straight to DVD instead. This is a particularly strong blow to the head for Sarah Michelle Gellar, who by now must be sick of starring in embarrassing cartoon adaptations or mediocre horror remakes. I'm also pretty sure you won't find Suburban Girl at the top of the latest best-selling DVD lists, but at least it's a film you can partially enjoy in case there's absolutely nothing else to rent or watch.
Facts of the Case
Based on Melissa Bank's two short stories "My Old Man" and "The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine," the movie first introduces us to Brett Eisenberg (Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Grudge), an ambitious associate editor at a popular Manhattan publishing house. Brett has made some considerable advances in her career recently, but as far as her private life goes, she could use some serious editing. Her best friend Chloe (Maggie Grace, Lost) hates books and usually fails to generate helpful advice, and her lazy boyfriend Jed (Chris Carmack, The O.C.) is away on a mission of self-discovery.
When Brett accidentally bumps into Archie Knox (Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock) at a random book signing, her life takes a sudden, drastic turn. You see, 50-year-old Archie is probably the most influential editor in New York City, and he just so happens to be smart, charming, funny, and single. Anyway, to cut a long story short, Brett quickly fails to resist his advances and ends up in bed with him. I'll leave it up to you to imagine what happens next.
Suburban Girl is less a film about age difference than about father-daughter relationships. Although Brett has a generally healthy relationship with her daddy, she can't stand the fact that he still sees her as his little girl. In Archie, however, she finally finds a man who gives her the necessary advice her own father doesn't. Archie gives her that certain push to look past her flaws and learn how to deal with stressful challenges. In fact, he even helps her penetrate a world she's always wanted to be a part of. In return, Brett spends an awful lot of time helping Archie to rebuild the damaged relationship between him and his younger daughter. He helps her become a stronger woman, while she helps him become a better father.
Although the premise of this conventional give-and-take romance sounds all cute and comes loaded with plenty of good intentions, I'm afraid to announce that the final product looks a little more somber than expected. Written and directed by Marc Klein, Suburban Girl is simply not intriguing enough to appeal to a mass audience. Instead, the film has all the defects of your average mainstream romantic comedy: a bunch of generic characters, a predictable plot, and a horde of saccharine dialogues. There's also a cheesy twist threatening to ruin the entire credibility of the movie, but if you manage to sit through the first hour without turning off your TV, chances are you won't even care.
Surprisingly, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin share a refreshing on-screen chemistry. Baldwin is undoubtedly the better actor of the two, but Gellar succeeds in delivering a fairly natural performance as well. I'm convinced they could have pulled off even better performances with a more sophisticated script, but you really can't blame them for having to work with horrible dialogue.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For a first feature that failed to pick up a theatrical run, I have to admit the picture quality and audio transfer are sharp and very clear. The film features an edgy soundtrack, and the music is well balanced with the dialogue all throughout.
Special features on the DVD are scarce, but the filmmaker commentary with Marc Klein is quite enjoyable to listen to. Klein begins by warning his audience that what he has to say will probably differ from most feature commentaries. Indeed, instead of focusing on editing and other technical stuff, he talks in great length about how he directed his actors and how important it is for them to dig deep into their characters if they want to establish the best possible credibility. Klein also mentions his choice of locations, explaining why he chose to show sites in New York you usually don't see in movies. Interestingly, he also offers first-time directors some useful tips on how to keep a cool head on the set.
Suburban Girl is not a complete waste of time, but the film is quite simply too flawed and simplistic for anyone seeking a subtle romance with solid characters and an interesting story line. Fans of Sarah Michelle Gellar should definitely check it out, though, because she finally found a role that seems to fit her quite well.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
• Director's Commentary
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