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12/19/07

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This DVD caught my eye on the shelf at Blockbuster and I immediately rented it. I'm a sucker for this kind of poster, the hipper-than-though design; you know for films like Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite and the like. Even though there's been a glut of these kind of films in the last few years, I haven't grown tired of them yet. Most of them have been pretty good, Thumbsucker and Running With Scissors being the only two I can remember not enjoying; I'm sure somebody's working on a spoof right now.


The Rage in Lake Placid turned out to be another good coming-of-age / everything-isn't-fine-in-the-suburbs type film; but it's not as "hip" as the advertising suggests. The film isn't chock full of hipster dialogue and funky, unrealistic set design. The filmmakers went for a much more natural feel; though that cool attitude bubbles right underneath, like they wanted to go all out, but were refraining themselves.


The film is about Placid Lake, that's a hippie-parent name, he's just graduated from high school; where he stood out as the weirdo. It was something he was well aware and proud of, really shoving his attitude down everyone's throats. It's particularly funny how he treats the school's bullies, literally asking them for the day's beating. When he makes a film that's shown in front of the whole school, about the atrocities that are perpetrated by the bullies, teachers and other students; he gets in big trouble, and is thrown from the roof of the school.


Waking up in the hospital, covered head-to-toe in a cast, he makes a new life decision. He wants to be normal. He gets a haircut, buys a new suit and lies his way into a job at an insurance agency. He's amazingly good at it, and genuinely wants the change to stick. His hippie parents don't approve, they want him to screw-around, to be an artist; following the societal norm equals death. Even his straight-as-an-arrow girlfriend begins to think he's going to far. He questions who he really is.


In his feature film acting debut, Ben Lee has a good charismatic screen-presence as Placid, his narration carries much of the film. I guess he usually fronts a rock band, and is the longtime boyfriend of Claire Danes, who makes an extremely brief cameo. Rose Byrne (Wicker Park) plays Placid's best friend Gemma, she's decent as the good-girl who discovers she wants to be bad, as soon as he turns normal. Miranda Richardson and Garry McDonald are both very funny as his parents.


This film also continues the trend of my enjoying Australian films, they have a really wonderful sense of humor in the Land Down-Under. Writer/Director Tony McNamara, while not knocking it out of the park with this film, proves that he's a talent to watch for.


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