Big Time Adolescence (2019) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Still not growing up at all

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“Big Time Adolescence” is about one problematic friendship which seems to be going nowhere even at the end of the story. As observing its two different lead male characters, we come to see that one of them must grow up not only for himself but also his longtime friend, but he never seems to understand what is wrong with him and his pathetic life at all, and I assure you that you will shake your head more over his incorrigible immaturity and inconsideration.

The story is mainly told through the viewpoint of Monroe “Mo” Harris (Griffin Gluck), your average gawky high schooler who has looked up to his older friend Isaac “Zeke” Presanti (Pete Davidson). Mo came to befriend Zeke when Zeke was the boyfriend of Mo’s older sister several years ago, and their friendship has been continued even after Mo’s older sister broke up with Zeke for his thoughtless infidelity. As Zeke allows Mo to experience many ‘cool’ stuffs including booze as they frequently hang around with Zeke’s friends, Mo becomes more attached to Zeke, and his caring parents are understandably concerned more about what is going on between their dear son and Zeke.

Anyway, though he always feels fine and good as being with Zeke after the schooltime, Mo has yearned for being cool and popular around his schoolmates, and then a good opportunity comes to him on one day. After coming to learn that Mo can buy booze via Zeke, one of Mo’s classmates, who also desperately wants to be cool and popular, asks Mo to supply booze to the upcoming evening party to be held at some popular senior student’s house, and Mo accepts this request once he is also invited to the party. While gladly helping Mo getting booze, Zeke also suggests that he should also supply some drugs to the party, and Mo does not mind that at all, especially after realizing how much drug can boost his popularity among other students just like booze.

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In the meantime, Mo happens to meet a female schoolmate named Sophie (Oona Laurence), who seems to like him as much as he is attracted to her. After getting to know her a bit more, he takes her to Zeke’s house on one evening, and he and Sophie eventually take the next step for their burgeoning mutual feeling when she is about to leave. Naturally getting nervous and confused just like any teenager boy around his age, Mo subsequently seeks an advice from Zeke, but, of course, Zeke is definitely not someone to give any good advice on courtship and relationship. While he has been in a relationship with a young woman named Holly (Sydney Sweeney), he is not particularly serious about his relationship with her, and that aspect is clearly exemplified by when he happens to be alone with one of the women from his past.

As Zeke is willfully and hopelessly stuck in his immature status, the screenplay by director/writer Jason Orley keeps generating the moments which are funny but will probably make you cringe from time to time. At one point later in the story, Zeke and Mo come across some obnoxious guy who turns out to be an old friend of Zeke, and this accidental encounter leads to a very uncomfortable moment for Zeke and Mo as this prick becomes more annoying than before. He is more or less than what Zeke will be in the future if he continues to stick to his aimless and carefree lifestyle, and Zeke seems to be aware of that to some degree, though self-awareness is the last thing we can expect from him.

In contrast, Mo’s situation heads toward the inevitable point as already shown to us in the beginning, and the mood accordingly becomes a little more dramatic as required, but the movie does not provide much surprise us in that part. Yes, he surely comes to screw up many good things as facing the consequences of his actions, and he consequently becomes disappointed and disillusioned with his relationship with Zeke, but then the movie steps back from the resulting mess before delivering a rather mild finale.

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Anyway, the movie remains watchable thanks to the solid acting from its two lead performers. Pete Davidson, who also participated in the production of the film as one of its executive producers, effortlessly embodies the laid-back quality of your typical slacker lad, and he balances his character well between amiability and incorrigibility. While Zeke is pretty pathetic to say the least, we can also see why others around him are quite forgiving to him, and we are not so surprised when Mo’s father tries to have a sensible conversation with Zeke instead of blocking Zeke from his dear son.

On the opposite, Griffin Gluck did a good job of holding the center as required while complementing Davidson well on the screen. Although his character is less colorful in comparison, Gluck is engaging in his character’s bumbling attempts toward maturity, and he is amusing especially when Mo clumsily attempts to get closer to Sophie. In case of the other substantial performers surrounding Gluck and Davidson, Sydney Sweeney, Emily Arlook, and Oona Laurence are well-cast in their respective supporting roles, and Jon Cryer and Julia Murney are also effective as Mo’s parents.

Although it is less interesting and successful compared to other similar comedy films about arrested development including “Young Adult” (2011), “Big Time Adolescence” is not entirely without good laughs at least, so you may enjoy it if you just want to kill your free time. Considering that this is his first feature film, Orley probably will move onto better things in the future, and I hope I will be more amused and entertained by whatever will come from him next.

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