by Brian McKay
So there's this movie I know nothing about, based on a comic book I've never heard of, but Mr. Pink is in it (that's Steve Buscemi, for all you Tarantino-impaired fucks), so I say "what the hell?" So there's Thora Birch as "Enid", acting pretty much like she did in "American Beauty" and every other goddamn film I've seen her in, and she and her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johannsen) are snickering at everyone at their High School graduation, and I'm thinking "Oh great, another whiny white suburban teen chick anthem film". And then, I found myself pleasantly surprised that it was something more than that.Enid and Rebecca are two high school outcasts. The kind of girls who don't know how hot they are and are so awkward with boys that they never seem to have dates. The kind of girls that are too smart for everyone (or so they think) and hold their peers in too much contempt to be concerned with popularity. As they prepare for adulthood, they face the tough choices like where to rent their first rathole apartment together and what shitty minimum wage jobs they should take. In the meantime, they decide to play a joke on a stranger (Steve Buscemi) by calling up a personals ad and setting up a date. Then they sit in the restuarant to watch the butt of their joke, as he waits for a date that is never going to arrive.
"Thora Birch, the Steven Segal of teen angst, breathes life into this world"
Enid feels an unexpected pang of remorse, and is curious enough to follow the poor schlub home. Inexplicably drawn by some fascination, she goes back to his place when he is having a garage sale and strikes up a conversation. She learns his name is Seymour, a lonely, introverted guy who loves collecting records and old memorabalia. She takes Seymour under her wing as kind of a pet project, a quest to get him hooked up with women and get him laid. "If you stick with me," she says, "You'll be up to your neck in pussy by the end of the summer." As she spends more time with him, however, she slowly realizes that the pussy she wants him to be up to his neck in is her own (sorry, I couldn't resist).
Meanwhile, her friendship/attraction with Seymour threatens her friendship with Rebecca, who just wants to get an apartment, get a job, and go to college - all the things that Enid really doesn't care for. Rebecca has outgrown the role of self-imposed outcast, while Enid obviously has no desire to be anything but.
It's a good film with some pleasant surprises. Thora does a decent job here, managing to actually emote something more than exasperated teenage bitchiness from time to time. The biggest surprise, however, is Buscemi as the shy and dorky Seymour. He is about as far removed from his Mr. Pink persona as possible, and is in fact so subdued that he makes Thora look over the top. Despite its painstaking, almost plodding, pace, the laughs are consistent and the characters intriguing. Fans of the comic book should be quite pleased by the adaptation (according to the friend I saw it with), but the source material is not required reading and the rest of us can hop on the bus as well.Films like "Dungeons and Dragons" aside, Birch shows that she does have a range beyond "wooden" or "haughty", and Buscemi makes great strides in laying to rest the stereotype of always playing the wise-cracking smartass (though he apparently does have one little moment on film reminiscent of his "Reservoir Dogs" days, after the closing credits - which I missed. Dammit). Oh, and please do this film the dignity of not confusing it with John Carpenter's "Ghosts of Mars," like our pre-movie waitress did.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5482&reviewer=258
originally posted: 09/18/01 06:47:34