5.6/10
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12 user 6 critic

Little Athens (2005)

R | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | June 2005 (USA)
A day in Athens, Arizona, as teens and twenty-somethings navigate life without a compass. Jimmy has gambling debts and sees a chance to steal and sell a dead-man's stash of drugs. The ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Drunk Partygoer #2
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Katie Kinney
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Drunk Partygoer #1 (as Joshua Arden)
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Berubi
John David Conti ...
Pizza Pop
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Mr. Carson
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Barnes' Girlfriend
Nikko Estrada ...
Kid #1
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Pedro
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Ping Pong Player #1
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Mrs. Carson
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Doctor Cook
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Carter
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Storyline

A day in Athens, Arizona, as teens and twenty-somethings navigate life without a compass. Jimmy has gambling debts and sees a chance to steal and sell a dead-man's stash of drugs. The corpse's cousin smells a rat. Jessica, who is babysitting, abandons her charge to seek someone to defend her from a boyfriend angry that he's caught an STD. Corey is responsible for his teen sister, and he and his pal Pedro have been evicted, so they plot to steal a car, sell it, and get back in their apartment. Heather, an EMT, thinks her cop boyfriend is cheating, and she confides in her best friend. There's a party that night where all comes to a head. Guns and a baseball bat: is violence at hand? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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A whirlwind day in the hapless lives of small town youth.

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Comedy | Crime | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, pervasive language and some violence | See all certifications »

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June 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mauvaises influences  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jorge Garcia and Dj Qualls starred together in the TV series Lost (2004) See more »

Quotes

Heather: Are you cheating on me?
Derek: Noooo
Heather: So you're not cheating on me?
Derek: You're starting to annoy me.
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Connections

References Lost (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

War on Gravity
Written by Hal Ozsan
Performed by Hal Ozsan and Poets and Pornstars
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User Reviews

 
Average film with an ending that tries to hard and fails
16 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

I'll start with the things that didn't work;

Jorge Garcia – I am a fan of his character in "Lost", and I have respect for the job he does for that series. In Little Athens he plays a person of Spanish decent (I believe Mexican), thus he has to use a "Mexican" accent for the duration of the film. To say his accent is bad would be a complete understatement. His accent was so bad, I couldn't believe his character at all. It honestly resulted in the worst acting performance I saw during the entire Toronto Film Festival. At first I thought he was trying to mock Mexicans, until his character stated that he was in fact a Mexican. What makes it worse is that his characters ethnicity HAS NO BEARING ON THE FILM AT ALL!

The Ending – Sometimes when people try too hard, it results in something that no longer feels natural, but forced. That's what I felt happened here. When watching a film like Amorres Perros or Magnolia, separate stories found in the film intersect for a brief moment. When doing so, they do so well. I believe this is the type of ending Little Athens tried to come up with, but it fell short. The move is actually a few separate stories/segments running in parallel that in turn meet in the end. For one, I'm surprised they tried to take the character that had the least amount of emotional draw and place the most unfortunate event on them. What makes for a good dramatic scene is the fact that the viewer becomes attached to a specific character, thus in a sense "pulling" for that character or hoping for that characters well being. The one question I wanted to ask the director but couldn't (I had to leave) was why he chose a character with such little dialog and impact on the film to have this fate?

But wait, I'm not done with that "surprise" just yet...

This "surprise" is apparently a "surprise" because the character is affected at that moment by an incident from one of the other stories in the film. This is where the director tried to "bring it all together". The problem is it was forced, and would have been better if common sense was used. To make it worse, the scene prior to this actually had it set up so that characters fate could have been tied back to family issues, and something that occurred earlier on in the film! It would actually have been a stronger message! Not only that, but ALL THE CHARACTERS could have had the EXACT SAME END RESULT if gone the other direction. The fact that the "simple" end would have made more sense and actually had a stronger overall message is why I call the end forced. I don't think the director wanted me to laugh at the moment, but I had to.

This feeling of being forced doesn't only stop here, and that is part of the problem. They always had to go that one extra step to the point where it becomes laughable. They just had to make situations "that much worse" The reason for why the police came to the party at the end for example. They could have come just because of the fact there was a party, or from the loud music. It would have worked just fine. Instead they had to find something from one of the segments to make it work, and again "bring it all together".

At a high level, I'd probably suggest DJ Qualls did the best overall job. They decided to be very typical and pair the skinny guy with the big guy (they paired him with Jorge Garcia), but I could still believe in his character, even when Jorge Garcia was on the screen.

It seemed to me that the film stock changed at some point in the movie. I don't know how to confirm this, but I'd swear they went down to a lower stock at the end. The granular look was amazing, and for parts of the ending that did work, it was a nice touch. It was probably the highlight of the film for me. The fact the stock changed.

At a high level it would be easy to make a statement that with the cast it had, it underachieved. There were moments when the acting wasn't convincing even outside of Jorge Garcia, but I'm not so sure that was the problem. The real problem was the end. It may be a result of the fact people are marketing this film through it's end, I'm not sure. Even the program director at the TIFF suggested "Wait until you see the end!!", leaving the audience in anticipation. Maybe the end didn't live up to its hype, but I can't believe I'd respect this end even without expectations or anticipation. It was just that forced. Sadly, this movie could have been such a better overall result with two changes, one of them being very minor;

#1 Remove the fake accent from Jorge Garcia

#2 Use the more obvious events for some of the characters, especially the "surprise" at the end

You could have had the exact same fate for every character. You could have had practically the same movie outside of 3 minutes worth of dialog to be honest. You could have re-shot a 10 second scene in which the camera pans a character, and it would have made for a much stronger message...

Unfortunately for me it doesn't work, and the people I attended this with felt the same. An average film with an ending that was forced.

The movie opens with "The following events happened in Ahtens but could happen anywhere"

I don't think so, unless you try really hard ;)


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