Big Time Adolescence will simply go down as one of the greats in the coming of age genre. It treads on familiar ground, as most coming of age films do, but really sets itself apart from the pack with it's authenticity.
First time writer/director Jason Orley really sets the tone for the film in the first minute. There’s no other way to describe it other than "homey.” I felt transported back to highschool immediately. The direction is never flashy but it really makes an impact with how inviting and warm you feel immediately.
Big Time Adolescence is essentially a character study following Mo and his mentor/best friend Zeke. My favorite films are ones that are more character based than anything, and that’s exactly what this movie is. You really are just pulled from scene to scene, watching how these characters interact and getting a grip on their relationship. There’s not really a goal or something that the characters are striving towards. It’s reminiscent of something like Call Me by Your Name where all the film really asks of you is to buy into the relationship between the two main characters. This type of plot, if handled incorrectly, could get boring very quickly, but due to the incredible writing that’s not the case here.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Pete Davidson and Griffin Gluck lead the film as our titular characters, and both deliver sensational performances. Davidson's character Zeke almost feels like a reimagining of his real self. He’s the stoner, laidback, troublemaker we all knew in highschool. In some cases it would feel like you were just watching that person pretending not to be them, but here it really works. He’s incredibly funny, very charming, and I think most importantly welcoming. The writing for his character also contributes a lot to that, but I don’t think there’s a lot of actors who could have made this character feel so authentic and likable. The film doesn’t try and hide that Zeke is kind of a lost cause and doesn’t really give you a whole lot of reasons to endear him, but Pete Davidson delivers all of that himself. Griffin Gluck plays fantastically off of him as Mo.
Mo met Zeke through his older sister, as he was her longtime boyfriend. They were close when his sister and him were together, and once they broke up, they remained close. Mo definitely fits into the mold of a lot of other lead coming of age characters; he’s kind of an outcast, starting to become more interested in girls, and really just wanting to fit in and feel cool, which is why Zeke is the perfect character to pair with him. In fact, the film acknowledges that both characters are using each other to feel cool and accepted in some way. The chemistry between them is pretty much the highlight of the entire film. If there wasn’t chemistry between these two, then the whole film would fall apart. There’s never a moment that you don’t buy that these two are best friends. The moments shared between them will be some of the hardest times you will laugh this year, as well as the most touching. There’s a conversation near the end of the film that had me a bawling mess. Truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Next to Birds of Prey, Big Time Adolescence probably has the best use of music this year! Every song used elevates all of the scenes and brings the film so much life. I do wish that the score had more of a presence because I think the soundtrack does overpower it, but it’s something I can look past because of how great the soundtrack is implemented.
The film is very immersive with its environments. Most films with scenes that take place during a high school party feel too polished and ‘movie like’. But here, you feel transported to parties we’ve all been to. That goes for all of the places the characters go in the film. Everything is kind of messy and just feels very lived in, which really contributes to the film feeling so real.
"You Gotta Jerk Off Before You..."
Genre: Comedy. Comedy.
I’m ecstatic that Big Time Adolescence lived up to my personal expectations, and even exceeded them. This might be my favorite coming of age movie EVER! And it’s definitely my favorite film of the year so far. Big Top Adolescence streams on Hulu March 13th, so please check it out; it deserves all of the hype.