|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
The F**k-It List
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Michael Duggan
scr Dan McDermott, Michael Duggan
prd Matthew Signer, Dan McDermott, Michael Duggan
with Eli Brown, Madison Iseman, Marcus Scribner, Karan Brar, Natalie Zea, Jerry O'Connell, Peter Facinelli, Tristan Lake Leabu, Andrew Bachelor, Amanda Grace Benitez, Camryn Manheim, Callan Mulvey
release US/UK 1.Jul.20
20/US Paramount 1h43
Watch it now...
This lively teen comedy-drama centres around how parental expectations can often become destructive. But the screenplay never quite grapples with the bigger issues it throws around. The filmmakers want this to be funny and romantic, but it's actually a pitch-black teen fantasy with a script that talks out of both sides of its mouth without taking any responsibility. It's sharply shot and well-acted, but ultimately dodges its own point.
Top student Brett (Brown) is heading for a top ivy league university, and his demanding parents (O'Connell and Zea) couldn't be prouder. Brett isn't so sure, wondering if he wasted his teens studying. Still, he somehow has chucklehead buddies (Scribner and Brar) who talk him into one epic prank before graduation. When it goes horribly wrong, Brett takes the blame, destroying his promising future. So he makes a list of things he wishes he'd done, starting with kissing his childhood crush Kayla (Iseman). And while he revels in his newfound freedom, the list goes viral.
Brett's list rejects his parents' pressure: he actually hates the clarinet and wants to get something other than an A. He also wants to fall in "real love", which signposts the narrative trajectory. But the preachier points are contradictory. It may be liberating to be your true self, but obligations don't always obliterate dreams. And quick cash isn't more important than pursuing potential. Yes, the plot includes the misleading cliche that becoming an influencer/disruptor is more valuable than going to university.
The cast is strong enough to make this watchable. As an actual teen, Brown adds weight to the movie, especially in his scenes with older characters like O'Connell and Zea as his pushy but worried parents. And Iseman adds some refreshingly grounded honesty in her role, which thankfully isn't quite the usual romantic lead. The other teens kind of swirl around the edges of the film, adding random moments of thoughtfulness or silliness. And a sideplot with Mulvey as a homeless man is badly misjudged.
Everything sounds very cool and empowering, such as the central thesis that fear holds us back. But that isn't always true. There's a nagging feeling that the script's serious moments are merely manipulating its target audience, including a rather shockingly casual LGBT reference. But even if there's some truth in the film's commentary about the university system, to call further education a pointless exercise is deeply irresponsible. Especially when the screenplay tries to value it at the same time.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
|HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|