A pair of naive young girls learn that even the most insignificant actions can have lasting consequences. Influenced by the hip-hop thug lifestyle and seeking to explore life outside of their insulated, culturally homogenized suburb, pretty young teenagers Allison and Emily set their sights on East L.A. to experience the "gangsta" lifestyle firsthand. By the time the pair meet a ruthless Mexican drug dealer named Hector, some true-life Latino gang-bangers, and realize just how far out of their element they really are, it may already be too late to turn back. Written by
Raymond Cruz and Michael Biehn previously appeared together in The Rock (1996). See more »
When Allison and Emily are rapping in Allison's room, above and to the right of Emily's head is a light and the boom microphone is clearly visible See more »
[whispering to Sasha]
[to Allison and Emily in the front seat]
OK, ya' know what? I, for one, wanna' just voice the opinion that this is crazy whack. I just had to say that.
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A promising premise and a solid performance wasted
Despite the fact that this movie is like the umpteenth variation of Rebel Without A Cause, anybody who has gone to a high school in an affluent area in the last decade and seen the amount of pampered young 'wiggers' there are knows that the premise of this flick is relevant to today's youth and is worth exploring. Unfortunately, the movie fails to deliver on this promising premise and only succeeds in wasting a fine performance from Anne Hathaway.
The movie WANTS to make a powerful statement about spoiled, naive, pseudo-disillusioned youths searching for identity in the superficial only to receive a colossal reality check when they realize the life they've been imitating isn't as glamorous as they had thought. Unfortunately, this noble message is lost in a weak script and characters that are either one-dimensional, unbelievable or both. Although one must consider the fact that the screenplay was for the most part written by a 16-year-old girl before judging it, it is disappointing that an Academy Award-winning co-writer with some experience with this genre of film (Stephen Gaghan) could not give the screenplay and characters a more authentic feel.
Even if it was the screenwriter's intention to make the script's dialogue horrible for the sake of legitimizing just how inane the gang of rich white teens are acting, the horrid screen writing comes off so cartoonish that the viewer will have an extremely difficult time accepting the dialogue, and consequently the behavior, of these characters as being legitimate. As a result, the gang of rich white wannabe thugs come off, for the most part, as being overwrought caricatures saddled with some of the most laughably horrible dialogue ever heard in a motion picture. As for the gang of cholo thugs in the movie, they come off as being far too nice and too stereotypical to Latinos, and thus seem only marginally less cartoony that the gang of rich white kids.
The movie's lone saving grace is Anne Hathaway. Playing a role that shares some parallels with and could be considered a natural extension of her smart-girl-with-a-rebellious-streak Meghan Green character from the short-lived TV series Get Real, hers was the only character in the movie that had any sort of depth and believability. The script, despite its many shortcomings, succeeds in making it clear just how self-aware, intelligent, and capable of good Hathaway's character is, in spite of her actions as a member of the gang of rich white teens, giving the film its lone three-dimensional character. Because of Hathaway's talent as an actress, as well as her successful exploitation of the public's predominant perception of her as a wholesome girl next door for this film, it is easy for the audience to believe that Hathaway's character is the rebel-without-a-clue fish out of water that the script is trying to portray her as. Hathaway's acting is superb, head and shoulders above anyone else in the film, which adds to her character's legitimacy. However, the people who see this movie will likely be too busy snickering at the inane lines of dialogue she's repeatedly forced to drop or, more likely, be gaping at their TV thinking "O...M...G! The chick from The Princess Diaries is actually TOPLESS!" to notice her solid performance.
Which leads to a discussion of arguably the biggest reason most people even know this film exists. Hathaway has claimed in interviews that she only does nudity in films if she deems it necessary to the story. While a case can be made that most of the nudity in the film was appropriate when considering the context of the scenes in which it was featured, I find myself questioning just how "necessary" it is, for example, to show Hathaway's character popping her top while making out with her boyfriend (or for that matter, to see Bijou Phillips' character in the film topless while taking a bubble bath). That's not to say this movie should be mistaken for a late-night film on Skinemax; it most certainly isn't. But Hathaway is topless just enough in this film to make this obvious attempt to expand her acting repertoire beyond the roles in family films she had previously been limited to seem heavy-handed and maybe even a little desperate. Anne, take it from me, you're a wonderful actress. That alone will do more to land you mature roles than taking off your top for sex scenes in a poorly-scripted indie movie ever will.
When all is said and done, the amount of nudity in this movie only made it worse; when you factor the amount of it in along with in how disappointing the movie is, it only adds evidence to the argument that the only reason this movie exists was for Hathaway to prove to us just how far she was willing to go to avoid being typecast as Princess Mia Thermopolis for the rest of her acting career...which is a shame, considering her legitimately solid acting job in this movie.
Rent "Kids" or "Thirteen" instead; both films are about topics similar to this movie and both are far better.
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