Comedy, 89 Minutes, 2007
This Australian comedy follows two teens as they graduate high school and decide how to move forward in life. Placid Lake (Ben Lee [IMDB]) is the smart – and smartass – son of Bohemians. Bullied at school and unable to apply his parent’s impractical spiritual advice (it really didn’t help that his mother sent him to primary school in a dress to “challenge expectations of sexuality), he ends up in traction.
His brilliant best friend Gemma (the seemingly eternally sad Rose Byrne [IMDB]) is being pushed into medical school by her excited, but obtuse father. She escapes into pranks and role-playing with her best friend Placid. Where Placid’s parents focus too much on emotion, Gemma’s father ignores it completely.
Placid decides there must be a better way. Rebelling against his upbringing he does the unthinkable: he starts a career in insurance underwriting. Convinced that “being normal” will solve everything he studies up and dives headfirst into it. Of course he also drags Gemma along for the ride.
The chemistry between the two leads is lukewarm and probably the biggest challenge here. The characters just never seem to hit it off; even when they’re falling in love. It doesn’t hinder the proceeding as much as it might, as the script doesn’t risk misinterpretation.
It’s smart and clever, but has a definite “theater” feel. Lines are crisply delivered in a noticeable, tennis-like, back-and-forth. It ensures everybody speaking can be heard clearly, but fails to sound completely natural. Exposition is clear and unambiguous. Staging also feels more Broadway than Hollywood, with serviceable middle-long shots dominating.
Still, it’s absolutely a fun little movie for all its flaws. It may be cliché, but can you truly argue with the theme of “if you want to be happy, be yourself”? Granted, I may be biased here: I’ve actually worked in insurance for over twenty years…