5.5/10 At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I have been a fan of Bo Burnham since his early days on YouTube of performing hilariously creative and inappropriate songs along with his guitar and piano skills. I even met him about ten years ago with my sister. I have enjoyed his standup specials on Netflix, own several of his CDs and often throw on his music on YouTube for a catchy laugh. I was therefore greatly excited to see how he would fair as a writer/director of film, after having acted in some small film roles but never writing a full script or directing a full length feature. It is with regret that I can say that even though there are some redeeming features to this movie, it ultimately falls short, isn’t aimed at any particular audience and fails to live up to the brilliance that Bo Burnham has shown us in his past work. The positives are definitely there. Lead actress Elsie Fisher does a tremendous job of playing her part and making it feel real. She is unlikable in many scenes which makes it harder to root for her but her acting shows that Burnham did a great job with casting his lead. Even more impressive to me was Josh Hamilton, whom played her father in the film. He has to deal with raising a daughter on his own, trying to be cool and liked by his daughter, trying to remain protective of her, nurturing her and dealing with his own problems and not being able to relate to a teenage girl. His performance was the best of the film to me and made me take note of him as well. The soundtrack is also overall very solid. The soundtrack definitely plays a larger role in the first half of the film but what is there is well used and the score is very fitting as well. This movie does have plenty of problems though that drag it down and ultimately make it worth skipping in theaters. The film drags in a couple areas where scenes stretch on a little too long, several plot points are introduced and then never addressed again, giving us no real closure on those plot points and this film doesn’t know who it is supposed to be for. It is rated R and too inappropriate for actual middle schoolers and full grown adults won’t be able to relate to as much of the middle school experience today because although some issues of popularity and self-confidence are still relatable, the changing social dynamics, politicization and phone technology makes for a different middle school experience that even I grew up with 16 or 17 years ago. I am also in the minority in the fact that I actually loved middle school and those were two of my three best school years of my life, college included. This movie also really makes me want to not have kids more than I already did, especially when you see how much worse things are getting for teenagers due to things like social media and the rise of divorce/single parent households. I left the theater feeling depressed and bummed out that this type of stuff is what a lot of children today have to grow up to look forward to. If you are a huge Bo Burnham fan, I would recommend this as a rental just to see what it is about but if you aren’t a fan of his, you can skip this. As a huge fan like me, I am greatly disappointed but hoping Bo can recover and bring us some more comedic gold that he has given us for over a decade now.
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