Big Time Adolescence
Ahlia Karam | 8/10/2020
Big Time Adolescence is a solid start for first time feature film director and writer Jason Orley.
Zeke, portrayed by none other than SNL star Pete Davidson, is a college dropout that’s going nowhere fast. Clearly trying to still ride the high of his highschool fame his best friend is 16 year old Monroe (Griffin Gluck). If that’s not sad enough Monroe is actually the little brother of Zeke’s ex-highschool sweetheart Kate (Emily Arlook). As a 23 year old with access to drugs, booze and parties Monroe aka Moe looks up to Zeke in a way that is every parents nightmare. As the expected chaos ensues we follow Moe realising that Zeke may not have his best interests at heart. There aren’t any twists or turns in this film but it does deliver on the expected. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic and it’s simply an easy watch.
Griffin Gluck shines in his first feature film lead. While it may not be a particularly complex role he plays it with integrity and heart. There is an earnest simplicity in his acting that really brought across the story. What also helped the believability of the film was the natural chemistry between Griffin and Pete.
Pete Davidson once again relatively plays himself. It goes without saying that he is quite good at playing a foul mouth stoner, drop out, drop kick but it would be interesting to see what else he can do. This role might be the first where he didn’t have his normal self deprecating humour, and as it turns out a little bit of confidence can go a long way (especially when you’re manipulating teenagers). As with a lot of Pete’s work lately, where he goes his real life best friend Machine Gun Kelly is not far behind. MGK's character was mainly made up on the spot but helped steer Griffin’s character in the right questionable direction.
Holly, played by Sydney Sweeney of Euphoria fame, is another pretty young thing wasting her time with a deadbeat dude. While she plays the character with charm and fulfils its purpose in the story here’s hoping she finds some broader roles to show her true range. Cast correctly Sydney could have a promising career ahead of her.
Sydney Sweeney, Emily Arlook and Oona Laurence (as Sophie, Monroe’s love interest) are continually frustrated by the stupidity of the men in this film. Their characters show that girls are putting their foot down and are done with letting lesser men take the spotlight.
One positive male role model is Monroe’s dad, played by Jon Cryer. A far step from his role in Two and a Half Men, he really is just a dad trying to do the best for his family.
The careful writing and directing by Jason Orley bring the audience along with Monroe’s journey and gets you to genuinely care about the kid. The harsh reality of bad decisions is portrayed with ease and gentleness. A solid and simple debut, it seems like Orley has made the right choice moving from assistant to director, but his next steps will be pivotal.
Coming of age stories have been told time and time again, but Big Time Adolescence brings consequential charm to the big screen. Imperfect role models are always going to be there but we see here that maybe the kids will still be alright.