SXSW Review: 'True Adolescents' - We Are Movie Geeks


SXSW Review: ‘True Adolescents’

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Writer/director Craig Johnson’s comedy/drama ‘True Adolescents’ is a sweet look at learning to cope with growing up regardless of how old you are.   Emotional as it is funny, the film provides a nice stage of a coming of age story for its superb actors to show their stuff.

Mark Duplass gives an awesome performance as Sam, a would-be rocker who, being in his early 30s, should probably give up soon on living the dream.   After being dumped by his girlfriend, he decides to move in with his aunt.   It isn’t long before she has him convinced to take his teenaged cousin and his friend out into the woods for some hiking and some man-to-man bonding.   Needless to say, none of the three are coming out of the woods unchanged.

It isn’t hard to see where the backbone of ‘True Adolescents’ story is going.   We’ve seen this “older-man-bonding-with-younger-man-who-hates-him-at-first-but-grows-to-accept-him” story countless numbers of times.   This doesn’t stop the earlier moments where the two age groups butt heads from offering some genuine comedy.   However, the emotional moments that occur later in the film are choreographed long before they play out, and any true emotional resonance to them becomes lost with the surprise.

Luckily, we have Duplass and the boys, Brett Loehr and Carr Thompson, and their acting chops to help smooth the rails along the way.   All three give stellar performances, particularly Duplass who has an amazing timing for comedy.   He can also turn on the drama with ample force in the moments where the film calls for that.

The film, though predictable and somewhat heavy-handed in its morals, does offer a few real surprises that completely catch you off guard.   One such surprise that completely changes the nature of the film comes out of nowhere making you bust out in laughter and then reeling from the ramifications of what you just saw.   The film is a genuinely funny coming of age story that offers just as much realism and drama as it does comedy.   The overall idea is pretty much “been-there-done-that”, but that doesn’t hurt the film bad enough to dissuade me from recommending it.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5

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