A Walk to Remember: Do Teen Movies Lack Anarchic Pleasure?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Palermo, Jan 27, 2002.

  1. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    "Let's commit some crimes," a character suggests in Repo Man. That line resonated through my head all during A Walk to Remember's saccharine and lifeless paean to teenage dullards. Its wholesome (unwatchable) earnestness is proof that, yes, movies probably do cause real-life violence. Adapted from Nicholas Sparks's bestseller, Landon (Shane West) is a misguided high school student who falls for the school outcast Jamie (teen pop sensation Mandy Moore) when a stupid mishap lands him civic duty with the school musical. Unlike most movie high school rejects, Jamie isn't original or freakish. She's simply, plainly nice. Landon's maturing now depends on his ability to see beyond the tight confines of his social peers, and faithfully reach out to connect with Jamie's uncomplicated niceness. Yow. Hopelessly out-of-touch with sane adolescents, A Walk to Remember plays like the brainstorm of adults who sold-out every youthful blood-cell for shiny new soccer-mom badges. It's telling that Joy Ride, Freddy Got Fingered, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back--the only recent youth-market films which maintain anarchic pleasure--died miserably at the box office. Those films proved too imaginative to escape the wrath of moral-watchdogs, but they knowingly address teen grandeur and frustration with a lack of patronizing. Although Moore seems genuine enough (for once the reject girl in a movie actually looks pretty plain) and West's channeling of Neil Patrick Harris and Corey Feldman is passable, the movie is slovenly laughable. Keep feeding them this gunk, and it's no wonder that the kids aren't alright.

    Mark
     
  2. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Oh, I don't know that this kind of film is the problem. It's pretty rare for a teen-oriented film to be this "clean", for lack of a better word, and I certainly think there is an underserved audience for this kind of movie. Most teen films are vulgar, vacuous exercises, so there's room enough for this.
    I didn't mind it's wholesomeness,although I do think that aspect was really overdone. I was bothered by how hamfisted the film is. The Man in the Moon is a great example of how to make a film like this properly.
    Ghost World has some of that anarchic spirit you're talking about but examined with an unblinking eye. (That it was essentially ghettoized to arthouse theaters kept it from most teens. The same happened to an even larger degree with Lost and Delirious, a teen-oriented film that deals with real issues maturely.)
    The problem with most teen films is that they sit on the far ends of the spectrum. They are either very pious, like A Walk to Remember, or nasty, like Cruel Intentions. Neither are representative of real teenagers.
     

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