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Moriarty Knows A Little Something About NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR!!

First, I’d just like to thank writer/director Beth Schacter for helping me shore up my opinion in an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with Mrs. Moriarty. I am never having a daughter. It’s one of those things I sort of know about myself, but especially now that I’m a parent. I can handle raising a boy, because I know I’ll be able to relate to him and help him understand things and even when he makes mistakes, I’m sure I’ll recognize a lot of myself in there. But if I have a daughter, I’ll be dead of stress or in jail for killing some punk kid who touched her tit before she graduates from high school. I can’t even imagine what things are going to be like a dozen years from now if we’re already living in days of stripper poles at high school parties and blowjobs-for-bracelets and anal-means-you’re-still-a-virgin. I can’t do it. I can’t raise a daughter in this culture. If that means I have to go get a vasectomy and settle for just one child just to make sure I don’t have a daughter, then so be it. Mrs. Moriarty isn’t buying my argument, but then again, she didn’t see NORMAL ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR with me on Friday morning. If she had, the discussion might be over. As I understand it, New Line currently has the distribution rights to this film, but they pulled it from Sundance and they’re currently not showing any release date for the movie. That’s a mistake. The film would have played incredibly well at Sundance, but I’m sure it’ll do just as well at the Tribeca Film Festival. I’m sure once it’s actually been seen by audiences and the studio can hear feedback from people, they’ll figure out what they have here. For now, let me be the voice urging them to do right by the film. It’s got something to say. It’s got real weight. This isn’t just some teen romance, and because it plays rough, it might actually generate some valuable dialogue between parents and their sexually active teens. Amber Tamblyn stars as Wendy, a smart girl who is a sort of lynchpin for a group of friends who have known each other since kindergarten. The six of them decided to skip the world of Friday night parties and hook-ups and spin the bottle so that they wouldn’t get side-tracked. So every Saturday night, they get together as a group and have sex. And the rest of the week, they exist as students and friends and they support each other as a group, and the rest of the world barely exists. Now, anytime you’re making a film about teenage sexuality, you run the risk of the material being exploitative. I think Schacter exhibits a really strong sense of how to handle difficult material without glamorizing or demonizing behavior. She isn’t trying to make a morality play; she’s trying to capture the way something felt, trying to describe something outside the norm that, for a certain group of characters, is the norm. The film I would most strongly compare this to, at least in terms of recent cinema, is THE VIRGIN SUICDES, Sofia Coppola’s vastly underrated first film. There was a scene in that movie between a group of boys at one house and a group of girls at another house, calling each other back and forth to play records and laugh and hang out. It’s dreamy, but it’s absolutely real emotionally, and that scene made me fall in love with Coppola as a filmmaker. Here, it’s the way Schacter handles the scenes of the group of kids together that really makes me think she’s a director to contend with. She doesn’t make them out as weirdos or thrill-seekers, and she doesn’t scold them. To these kids, this is what love looks like. This is the family they know. I know that the only way I made it through high school was by leaning on the closest friends I had, the guys who were my entire social circle. Nobody else’s opinion really mattered to me as long as my friends had my back. With these kids, sex is the only intimacy that really matters, and no one who exists outside of their group can ever be as close to them as each other. Kelli Garner, Stephen Colletti, Julia Garro, Ricky Ullman, and Edward Tournier all do lovely work, and Tamblyn has moments with each of them that make impressions. I believe the rapport between them, and that’s important as the film unfolds. Without nudity, they express some really powerful vulnerability, and the film deals with the responsibilities of sex that you don’t always see. It’s easy to do a “you’ll-get-pregnant” warning, but it’s harder to explain to a teenager how responsible you are for someone else’s heart when you enter into a sexual relationship. The film really kicks in when Wendy meets her new next-door neighbor, Sean (Ashton Holmes), and almost immediately, there’s a spark between them. It’s the first time Wendy has even considered someone outside her group, and it’s a pivotal moment for her. She starts to really examine the way she lives. Holmes was great in last year’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE as Viggo’s son, and he’s equally strong here. He and Tamblyn have real chemistry, and that makes everything else seem that much more plausible. SPY KIDS star Daryl Sabara basically plays comic relief in the film as Wendy’s younger brother, who is still innocent, on the verge of sexuality but certainly without experience, and he plays most of his best moments with Kelly Lynch as Sean’s mother. Tech credits in the film are strong across the board, and the film’s got energy from end to end. It’s R-rated, but I think parents should consider taking their teens to see it. The R appears to be more for the presence of drugs and alcohol, and for the idea of the sexuality discussed in the movie, since there’s almost nothing in the way of nudity. Everything’s handled with a delicate touch, and that’s a testament to Schacter’s sensibilities. As debut films go, this is one to be proud of, and I hope New Line treats it right when they roll it out later this year.

Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:27 a.m. CST


    by RealDoubleJ


  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:29 a.m. CST

    Wow Mori thanks for that

    by DOGSOUP

    I will definatly check this one out thanks to you. This review reminds me why I keep coming back here.Oh yeah it's to see what new catchphrase is sweeping the TB's. Dude, catchphrases are so Goth.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:28 a.m. CST

    double boner

    by The Dum Guy

    I don't even know what that means...

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:33 a.m. CST

    I second that no daughter notion

    by Valebant

    and it isn't because I don't about girls, it's because I DO know about boys... especially in high school.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:34 a.m. CST


    by Valebant

    add another "know" in there somewhere... it's early.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:38 a.m. CST

    my-so-gny (sp?)

    by The Dum Guy

    Personally (sp?), I don't trust women, and ain't afraid to say so, just look at the shit they tattoo over their asses... Well, that's not bad, but if I had a daughter I wouldn't like it one bit.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 3:56 a.m. CST

    Misogynists had better start liking the taste of Ass

    by DOGSOUP

    Because you might as well be more gay than Lance Bass, Neil Patrick Harris, Sir Ian McKellen, and Alan Cumming combined to hate women that much.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 4:32 a.m. CST

    If I have a girl...

    by Crimson King

    I'm buying a shotgun. Worst case scenario: if I miss, I can bludgeon the bastard that touched her tit. It's not that I wouldn't want to have a daughter, I think it could be great. But once she hit a certain age, I'd be one paranoid motherfucker.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 6:53 a.m. CST


    by Pound Sand

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Trust in Mori we must

    by performingmonkey

    I admit, I would definitely just assume this was going to suck, but the way Mori has conveyed it here it seems a mite more interesting. Bringing in the Virgin Suicides comparison helped.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 12:34 p.m. CST

    no daughters here either

    by aestheticity

    which isnt to say i wouldnt bust my sons chops so hard hed never forget if i found out hed acted less than respectably

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 1:18 p.m. CST

    I got daughters

    by Doctor_Sin

    The Austin PD has picked up countless Thugs, Playas, and Homies from my front stoop after I have issued the Beat Down. It is tiring having so many no-prospect young men picked up and issued Trespass Warnings.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 1:42 p.m. CST


    by The Dum Guy

    So, how old are your daughters?

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 2:52 p.m. CST

    I hear ya

    by ewokstew

    The wifey and I are ready to have kids as well. Or at least have fun trying. But I don't know about a daughter. I think it goes like this: girls are easier to raise through ages 1-18. boys are easier to raise 12-adult. At least this is what I've heard. I'd rather the difficulty come sooner than later when I'm young and can handle it than older and grouchier and ready to punch out some punk for wanting to have sex with my 15 year old daughter.

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 2:53 p.m. CST


    by ewokstew

    make that girls are easier to raise ages 1-12

  • Jan. 8, 2007, 2:54 p.m. CST


    by ewokstew

    Eh... maybe we'll adopt.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 1:46 a.m. CST

    Oh, I'm Sure...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... she'd be a doll based on being in a house full of women (my mother-in-law and sister-in-law live with us, and Toshi gets more attention than any kid ever as a result). It's just all those wormy little boys I'm worried about. <P>Seriously. Teen sexuality today terrifies me.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 1:56 a.m. CST

    as a teenager lemme tell you

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    getting a girl to buy into "anal-means-you're-still-a-virgin" is harder than you'd think. they aren't into it for obvious reasons. I had like 1 girlfriend in high school who did that, and that was because she was into it on her own without coersion.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 2:19 a.m. CST

    also, I haven't done that...

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    and I never slept with a girl I didn't respect. Even my Punker friends, and these are kids who would show up to school drunk every once in a while, never just did "fuck and run" (as Liz Phair would say). But then, I was the boyfriend all my girlfriend's mothers approved of. and all my friends were literal geniuses. maybe I don’t have the best point of reference. I went to a school where the requirements were a minimum IQ score of 145, but I was in Los Angeles, at a school with 5,000 students, so maybe I do have a good point of reference? I donno. But if you raise a daughter and are THERE FOR HER, she will be fine. all the "school sluts" I’ve ever known of had one common trait, they were all looking for a father figure. Daughters who are raised right respect themselves and don't go down on guys for bracelets, or whatever.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 3:55 a.m. CST

    Which School, Sonic?

    by drew mcweeny

    Because if the answer is "Crossroads," I'm fascinated. It sounds like a pretty unique environment. If I'm staying in LA while raising a family (something I'm not sure about by any means), then obviously I have to think about the schools here.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 5:58 a.m. CST

    I went through the Highly Gifted Magnet program

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    from fourth through 10th grades. then I left in favor of going to college. The high school was "North Hollywood High" there were brilliant instructors there (in the magnet, I can't speak for the normal school as their most notable alumni is Adam Carrolla). It's worth checking out, the only problem is there is only 1 highly gifted magnet program middle and high school and only 2 elementary schools. So, get your kid tested early for IQ. If he does well, all sorts of doors are open to him. If you want to ask me any more about it, I can give you detailed info over my email “straighttovideo at gmail dot com” PS. the whole thing exists because of integration laws. so, there is a requirement of 40% white, 60% minority. PPS. Or maybe flip's 4 AM here and I'm tired so excuse any spelling mistakes.

  • Jan. 9, 2007, 4:45 p.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    This is certainly not anywhere near as pervy as BULLY. The female director is probably a big reason for that. She cast girls who look like real people, she avoids gratuitous nudity, and she is more concerned with the emotional ramifications of early sexualization than she is with showing you a parade of young flesh.

  • March 27, 2007, 2:18 a.m. CST

    Sounds fascinating.

    by ErnieAnderson

    However, I'd have to agree about never wanting a daughter. If I did, I'd have to homeschool her and lock her in a tower at night...which creates an entirely new set of problems.<p> <p> <p> She'd probably grow up to write the next ERAGON, for starters. And the world certainly doesn't need that.

  • March 30, 2007, 1:06 a.m. CST


    by one time poster

    I saw the film tonight at a private screening and I need to ask a few big questions.... 1) Who keeps their same friends from 3rd grade until their senior year in high school? 2) What is the purpose of this movie? It is not a T&A film like "Bring It On" and it is definitely not a film that provides insight into teens like "Thirteen." The film definitely has a Heathers feel to it. The characters are shallow and demonstrate little if any "soul". This is just a repackaging of girl choosing boy over friends with a significant load of unprotected sex. Who is the targeted audience? Why pull the distribution deal - the film isn't all that racy or controversial. The most shocking thing about the film is the title and if released it will only make conservative talk show freaks believe that this is what happens in rich, suburban American since they have no ability to see irony or stereotypes. If you haven't seen the film, wait for Netflix - in the meantime see Thirteen, Ghost World, or Thumbsucker to really make you think about adolesence.