Saturday, February 18, 2012

Garrett's Four Favorite and Two Least Favorite Juvenile Delinquency Movies

That Justin Grimbol sure knows his delinquency. Well, I am not without my own opinions on the subject, it being a subject and me being a film geek and one of this blog's two main contributors. What are these opinions? If you're here, I assume you've asked this question or you just click every link I post on Facebook. Either way, thank you and you're about to see what my favorite and least favorite films about juvenile delinquency are.


Told in black and white with color flashbacks, two teenage girls in prison (Alicia Witt and Renee Humphrey)remember the best day of their lives. They lie, they cavort, they joke, they snuggle in bed...and they murder an old lady for fun. Pretty big day. The transition between their harsh reality and the wonderful daylight world of their friendship leaves you feeling sympathetic for them, lets you see how much they've lost and what it felt like for two girls to have fun for just one fantastic day. Witt plays Bonnie, a pitch perfect psychopath, sexy, villainous, a wall of lies that even she can't penetrate. Humphrey is Hillary, her accomplice, sweet underneath a tough exterior and deeply in need of love and acceptance. This film is highly underrated and has every right to be ranked among the modern indie film classics. Fun is well shot, well acted, sad and tender and cruel and heartbreaking. I think it's a must watch. Nothing is more scary and poignant than seeing adults interviewing these kids and starting to get it...and seeing that maybe, just maybe, these girls had no choice.


Another great independent film, not just about but made with the true spirit of youthful rebellion. It rebels against society, against conventional wisdom, against good taste and even against filmmaking itself. It's a film that, like the generation it's about, defiantly refuses to be any one thing. One viewing, it might feel like a horror film with occasional slides into comedy, another, a vicious black comedy, another a fun filled romp that just isn't afraid to make a mess. There's no better movie about being a young artist that feels infinite potential but is afraid to make one specific statement or bring anything to its terminus. This movie will try to sell you a Madonna pap smear, beg you to shoot your television, argue in favor of the McKinley assassination and explain how Smurfs prepare us for the coming of Krishna consciousness. It might not be about smoking dope or robbing convenience stores, but it's about things that society might think are even worse.

The Lost Boys

Run away from home. Go to California. Hang out on the boardwalk. Groove out to shirtless oily jazz musicians. Run your own business without adult supervision while waging a two kid war on the supernatural. Join a biker gang and feast on the blood of the living to survive. The adolescents in this movie are some of the worst influences in movie history. And they're having a good time. And you'll have a good time. Is there any better image of juvenile delinquency than immortal teenagers in black leather hanging out in a shrine to Jim Morrison? If there is, I don't want to see it. This movie flouts and plays with the conventions of the adult world to the point at which any observant child watching it would have to come to only one conclusion: that those conventions are bullshit and growing up is a dangerous stupid ordeal that you might not want to go through. This movie's just awesome.

Rock 'N Roll Highschool

This is another film about pale freaks in leather teaching young people to liberate themselves from good behavior. But the freaks in this movie are The Ramones. And their music makes mice explode. It's just that cool. Come on, weren't you worried about your physiological integrity the first time you heard Beat Up the Brat? No? I don't believe you. P.J Soles plays Riff Randell, a rebellious rock and roller who defies Mary Woronov's tyranny to give her school a much needed punk enema. Clint Howard is fixer savant Eaglebauer. You know that kid from high school who worked out of a closet and could procure anything you needed for a price? Well, that's him. Eaglebauer is one of the greatest characters in the history of juvenile delinquency. He defies logic and authority alike and makes a mockery of the adult world. And also there are The Ramones and Paul Bartel plays a teacher that decides rock and roll is good for the teenage soul. And also there are The Ramones. And The Ramones were there too. Gabba fucking gabba hey. Rock 'N Roll High School is a template for teen comedies, but is stranger and more gonzo than any of the films it influenced, none of which have The Ramones.

And my Least Favorites

Ghost World

The first time I saw this movie I loved it. It depicted a curvy beauty with alternative sensibilities falling for a loser that liked jazz and collected vintage everything. It was more than likely I would one day become someone like Steve Buscemi's sad loner Seymour. And maybe I'd win the love of a free spirited curvy teen goddess with a fuck-the-man attitude. On the surface, that makes this movie an awesome geek love story and a beacon of hope. But after reading the graphic novel this movie was based on and giving it several more views, I discovered that Thora Birch's Enid no longer struck me as a way cool free spirit, but a snarky sociopath with an urge to break everything she loves to liberate herself from the wheel of reincarnation or something. She's less a girl that you would fantasize about dating but more a girl that you thank God you broke up with. The delinquent glee is short lived, the rebellion is shallow and empty and in the end nobody is happy. I'd take Alicia Witt's vivacious Bonnie over the disappointing poster child for Borderline Personality Disorder that's at the center of this narrative.

Igby Goes Down

I love the title of this movie. I love saying Igby. But now, I love saying "fuck Igby and everything about him." If somebody forgot to roll cameras for or sell tickets to the All Star Game, it would waste less talent than this painfully dry indie snooze fest. Susan Sarandon is great as Igby's very depressed mother, but the story doesn't really lead much of anywhere. This movie is icy and it doesn't make delinquency look like fun. I can't remember entirely why I hated this movie so much, but I did. Maybe I expected Igby Goes Down to be as much fun as saying Igby Goes Down. It's not.

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