Sucks to be Nearing Grace on the same week that Zerophilia opens. The latter, despite its orthodox visuals, peers at modern teenage sexual rites from conceptually audacious angles, while the former treads the innocuous ground of two friends whose affections for each other run deeper than swapping opinions about Grace Jones and The Beatles. The film suggests what it might be like to see Garden State stripped of its wallpaper and matching couture, which might have been a good thing if the result were at all visionary. The story is old as Methuselah, but those with shorter attention spans will remember it from Some Kind of Wonderful and The Wonder Years. Mom-less Henry Nearing (Greogry Smith) drops out of school shortly before his graduation, casually mortifying everyone around him, including his father Shep (David Morse), who grows an impossible head of hair after he and his two sons dump his wife’s ashes from a plane above that ugly strip of the Hudson River that separates Manhattan from New Jersey. Why he drops out has little to do with Grace (Jordana Brewster), a girl who suggests what Winnie Cooper might have been like on the reefer. Which is to say that the girl is fucking loose, distracting Henry from the fact that he really wants to be with Merna (Ashley Johnson). Shoehorned intermittingly into the cracks of this familiar crisis—set dispassionately against a soundtrack of tunes from the ‘70s, an era the filmmakers barely muster the strength to invoke—is the death of Henry’s mother and the ostensibly sad effects it has on the boy and his family, all of which we have to take at face value, and literally so (the most we get of the woman is her face, via home movies and photographs). We’re meant to empathize with Henry—instead, I was feeling sorry for Fred Savage’s blue-balled Kevin Arnold. Any film that can cause such disassociation obviously has its screws mixed up.
- Whitewater Films
- 105 min
- Rick Rosenthal
- Jacob Aaron Estes
- Gregory Smith, David Morse, David Moscow, Ashley Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Chad Faust
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