Tuesday 12 January 2010
There's No Bridging the Age Gap
I went to see Youth in Revolt with a couple of friends. I didn't like it very much. When I got back, the two uninvited, couch-surfing guests who'd been taking up space in the living room all weekend and making me feel unwelcome in my own home were watching Brick, another movie I didn't like very much. And I came to realize somethings about myself: I'm way too nice, and I don't buy into teen drama.
I don't buy into the way these people act, talk, and deal with their situation. I mean, yes, Michael Cera is very good a playing a lanky, awkward looser teenager, but I don't for one moment believe that any lanky, awkward, looser teenager anywhere has ever had either the nerve, the maturity, or the vocabulary necessary to woo the stuck-up bitch next door. Youth in Revolt is the perfect example of how not all great reads make for great movies (at least not with Miguel Arteta at the helm, oh SNAP!).
But I'm not here to complain about a comedy I didn't find funny. I'm here to complain about horror I don't find scary, and Brick is another good example. I take that back. Brick is not a horror movie. It's noir, which is genre, but it fails so completely that I can use it as a proxy.
Brick is pretty much your classic film noir: dead body, murder mystery, private dick-type character, femme fatale, and vintage mid-century dialogue. But it's about high schoolers. And there is no teen or twenty-something actor alive (or dead) who can convince me their character has the intelligence and sophistication of Dana Andrews, Fred MacMurray, or Ingrid Bergman.
I have no problem with young people caught up in adult situations but I do have a problem with young people behaving in wholly adult ways. The idea is completely misguided and it breaks the suspension of disbelief. Brick has a good cast of talented people, but they can't sell it; I'll believe in a seamy high school underbelly, but I won't believe these kids are all that clever. The subject matter of most mysteries and thrillers requires a certain amount of maturity from their cast that only comes with age and experience.
Imagine if Fargo were cast with teens. Or if Predator was set during study abroad. I shudder to think what would happen to Alien if a group of space-students made contact.
Oh wait, that was Jason X.