Nicole M. Campbell is a KFI editrix. She watches movies more often than the Pirates of the Caribbean yo ho ho. This week, the Girl on Film gives us her review of the teen movie, “The Edge of Seventeen.”
If you haven't noticed, these days movies are the red-headed stepchild of entertainment options with their endless remakes and franchise money grabs.
While "The Edge of Seventeen" isn't quite shaded under that unoriginal umbrella, it doesn't exactly tread new ground, with its snarky, intellectually-advanced-for-her-age teenage girl who's - gasp! - out of step with the world because she just FEELS things so DEEPLY and nobody UNDERSTANDS her except some old dude who may possibly take the form of a romantic interest, weird neighborhood shopkeeper or in this case, a teacher at her school. He's played by Woody Harrelson with the sly comic timing we all love him for but has been supplanted recently by his serious dramatic chops.
The angsty teen girl is played by Hailee Steinfeld, who scored an Oscar nomination at 13 for her performance in the Coen brothers' remake of "True Grit." I was not annoyed by her. This was a good thing, for it was after seeing the pretentious actors and mawkish dialogue in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" a few years back that I decided I was too old to go to teen movies.
But the lure of Woody and James Brooks made me curious to see the film. Brooks is the Oscar-winning creative force behind some of T.V.'s most iconic shows, including "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Taxi," and the director of "Broadcast News, "Terms of Endearment" and "As Good as It Gets." He signed on to "The Edge of Seventeen" as a producer, taking on the first-time director, Kelly Fremon Craig, as his protégé.
With Brooks the benevolent papa, many critics automatically christened "The Edge of Seventeen" a new classic, in the vein of John Hughes. That name is sacred for us '80s babies weaned on the antics of Ferris Bueller and the gang of the Breakfast Club, who swooned at the dreamy romanticism of Eric Stoltz's character from "Some Kind of Wonderful."
As far as I'm concerned, nobody will ever be able to capture teenage life like John Hughes did. But teenagers living now weren't alive during his time, so their favorite cinematic reflections will most likely be contemporary. "The Edge of Seventeen" is not a bad movie to add to their list.
Gripes first: Faithful readers of this blog will know I have complained one time before (see the review for "Louder than Bombs") about movies named after song titles. It's lazy. And in this case, inaccurate because Nadine is not on the edge of 17, she is 17. Stevie Nicks deserves better.
But one thing I absolutely loved about this movie was the choice to cast an Asian actor as Nadine's burgeoning love interest. Seeing interracial relationships onscreen isn't unusual anymore, but when it's a white girl and Asian boy, it is, especially when Asian men have been stereotypically emasculated sexually in popular culture.
By the very nature of its genre, "The Edge of Seventeen" most likely won't appeal to anyone who didn't come out of the womb clutching a smartphone. But people can rack up some cool cred with the kids by seeing the movie. Even if they went way over the edge of 17 years ago.