This is the indie film that every 16-year-old girl tells herself that she will make one day. Even though I found some of its intentional oddities to be annoying, I still kind of liked it. Because I'm essentially still a 16-year-old girl. A few reviews described it as "the girl version of Napoleon Dynamite." Isn't Napoleon Dynamite the girl version of Napoleon Dynamite? Aside from the co-opting of the mass-produced "VOTE FOR PEDRO" teeshirts and the propensity to yell about tater tots, I have never met a guy that is like, "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. NOW THAT'S A MOVIE THAT I CAN RELATE TO."
The brief rundown of this film: A 13-year-old girl is obsessed with her first love, Philip. He breaks up with her over the summer, so she decides to win him back (read: stalk him until he takes her back) by enrolling in the private school that he goes to. But she's a Freshman and he's a Sophomore. So. You know. IT COULD NEVER WORK. She gets cast off into the loser group, AS ALWAYS HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE 13 AND "QUIRKY" (a word overused in just about every review of this movie that I found, but, what can you do but embrace it I guess). And these lovable losers are awesome people, which of course she recognizes.
Y YOU NO LOVE ME PHILIP?!?!?!?
Here's something that I forgot to mention: this story takes place in Alaska. In the fall/early winter. THERE IS NO SNOW IN THIS MOVIE. Um, hi. I do realize that it does not always snow in Alaska. They have summer you guys. BUT SERIOUSLY. IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER IN THIS MOVIE AND NO ONE IS EVEN WEARING A WINDBREAKER. WHAT IN THE FRESH HELL DID NO ONE RESEARCH THIS OR WHAT. But wait. They did research it you guys. Because the central plot of the movie revolves around an annual school competition called The Snowstorm Survivor Competition. And when we get to the part where it's time for the actual competition, and everyone is in SHORTS AND TEESHIRTS, there is a quick loudspeaker announcement that is like, "WELL, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, THERE IS NO SNOW AT OUR SNOWSTORM SURVIVOR COMPETITION. GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL GUYS! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT?" Um. No. I really can't believe that people are wearing shorts in December IN FAIRBANKS, ALASKA.
"Oh hai just hanging out in the warm waters of Alaska in December in our sundresses."
So anyway, our girl Vanessa gets chosen as a team leader for the competition, and she chooses her bunch of castoff buddies, and everyone, including Philip and THE PRINCIPAL OF THE SCHOOL, is like, "Are you sure about this? You're never going to win! You are all losers and losers never champion anything! Just look at the history of the entire fucking world!!!! Not a socially awkward or slightly eccentric person has every amounted to anything ever OH WAIT..."
This is my crew. We are obviously underdogs, and we are obviously going to win, because when a person makes a movie about underdogs, it's because they always felt like an underdog in their own life, and they want to see an underdog win as they never could in actual real life.
I shall spare you the rest of the story, because it's really nothing new, and actually quite draggy. Although one of the kids ends up killing themselves, which was all at once startling, and kind of out of place, and pretty much an unresolved element to the film that kind of made me think, "WTF. We have gone from a movie about empowering yourself when you are seen as less-than or weird or just not normal, and we've taken it to a place where this character is just totally incapable of standing up for themselves, so they just kill themselves, and we're never going to talk about it. WHAT?"
I'm 50/50 on how I felt about this movie. It was a pretty cliched empowered-loser-girl movie, but it did have a few good spots. Mostly, I was too distracted by the fact that they didn't get their first choices for casting, so they just told the actors to proceed accordingly:
Vanessa, you be Kirsten Dunst from Virgin Suicides
Philip, you be Max Fischer
Hercules, you be Adam Wylie (GILMORE 4EVER!)
Samantha, you be pre-makeover Princess Diaries
Vanessa's mom, you be Courtney Cox
Coach Roach (yes, seriously), you be Sue Sylvester.
Number of minutes the husband watched: 8
Number of animals used as symbolism for things that I didn't understand: 2
Number of unbelievably intricate shadow puppets made by 13-year-old kids: 5
Number of recurring themes that I believe were included to be intentionally QUIRKY, and actually had no meaning within the realm of the film: at least 4 (conversation hearts, shadow puppetry, cursive graffiti, letters to imaginary friends)
Fatality count: 3 (one kid, one rabbit, undetermined species of insect)
Interesting Factoid: The girl who played Samantha is indeed the girl who played Luke's estranged daughterApril on Gilmore Girls. GILMORE 4EVER I SHALL SAY ONCE MORE.
Final Assessment: C+
For you to get the symbolism, this should be one of those hipstamatic photos that I am growing to loathe.