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Reviews & Ratings for
Stay Cool More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Mark Polish should have been fired and replaced.

Author: Todd Lampe from United States
24 July 2012

Being a Winona Ryder fan, I saw this listed in her credits but had never heard of it. A cute concept for a movie is destroyed by a non-charismatic, lifeless and dull performance by Mark Polish. DULL! And when he speaks you can't even hear him! The actors around him (Winona, Hilary Duff, Sean Astin) are hilarious but can't save the movie. Hilary is a little too old now to play the High School dreamboat, but she pulls if off anyway. Too bad it's a bore, because the film has nice production values and decent writing. Who knows what really happens when a movie is made, but I'm sure Polish's lack of anything other than arriving on the set is the reason this wound up in Red Box and Netflix without ever being in theatres.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: Stepper_on_flowers from France
7 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this movie for the sole reason of hoping against all odds that this might be Winona Ryder's big break. Unfortunately, it turned out to be yet another uninspired drivel she managed to get mired in during the last decade.

As a fellow reviewer mentioned, the movie's premise is believable and actually promising (a revisit of the teenage angst/fitting into society theme but in the context of a grown-up character could have been just right for Ryder, who had success in this field - Heathers, Roxy Carmichael etc.), the casting is reasonable, but the execution is a flop. Both unrealistic and uninspiring is how it came across to me.

*Spoilers below*

The main character's plight is resolved in a disappointing manner.

He gets into a fight with an ex-bully and gets severely beat up right before his appearance on local TV and his speech at high school graduation. WTF was that about? The guy is 38 years old, he's supposed to have at least either brains or brawn by now (preferably both), yet he behaved like a stupid kid. No, getting beat up is not cool, or smart; it shows a complete lack of progress from his submissive school mentality - and such progress apparently was intended as the main point of the storyline.

He "hits" on a teenage high-schooler (played by a girl who's at least 25, as are all the "highschoolers" in this movie). While this topic was poignantly and deeply explored in films like "American Beauty", here it's a pathetic mess. If he doesn't want a relationship with a teenager, why does he allow her to hug and kiss him, goes to the prom with her, and later takes her to an after-prom party? Weird behavior for a 38-old-man who was asked to deliver a speech at the graduation (and is therefore tasked with being a role-model of sorts for the teens). If, on the other hand, he decided to overcome his complexes this way, why didn't he play it to the hilt and have sex with the girl (she is 18)? So, either stupid or cowardly - again, no progress from his high-school persona.

The "book" he wrote is a real "masterpiece": a simple retelling of his high-school failures using aliases instead of real names, it is very uncomplimentary to his former classmates, including one of his best friends. In fact, I was surprised the unflattering passages which flagellate this guy's life choices did not cost the hero his friendship, period.

The "speech" he gave at the graduation was a mish-mash of brainless clichés about how high-school life creates memories and influences you (well, duh!) and apparently nothing more than a passage from his own book (talk about shameless plugs and laziness!) Finally, the big storyline of his relationship with Scarlet (Ryder) was basically left hanging. Yeah, he sleeps with her once, and then leaves town. Was this what all the fuss was about? One single sex event? I'm sure she'd do it just for the fun of it (she's also 38, let's not forget that), so why build up so much expectations only to end it with a meaningless pat on the back and goodbye? The two were shown to be seriously attracted to each other, so why does he run away? Again, this is not an adult solution, it's the way a whiny teenage kid could react, afraid of anything serious.

*End spoilers*

All-in-all, a disappointing movie. Doubly so for me: as a long-time fan of Ryder, it's painful to see her struggling with this kind of low-quality spiritless crap. She's obviously not made for the kind of plain, tasteless, brainless mulch that passes for film like "Stay Cool". I'm sure that, given a powerful unorthodox director who would play to her strengths in a movie that is not afraid to break new ground, she could shine again. Case in point: her small but vicious appearance in Aronofsky's Black Swan (now there's a movie I have no regret of watching!), which was sadly very brief but gave a good taste of how wickedly effective she can be. Someone like Tim Burton or David Lynch could certainly use her well; too bad nothing of the sort is even envisaged at this point. Which is sad because it seems an entire era of film-making is silently retiring instead of pleasing us all with new masterpieces.

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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Badly written pointless obsession with high school

Author: xorys ( from Toronto, Canada
6 June 2012

I rented this movie with on the expectation that it might be an intelligent comedy with some good actors. Unfortunately it turned out to be badly written garbage. And what is it with this North American obsessions with high school?! If you're 15 and you're obsessed with high school that's... I guess kind of normal, especially if you're of limited mental capacity and rather self-obsessed. But if you're 40 and you're still obsessed with high school, then I'm sorry, but there's something seriously wrong with you! The point of high school is to help young people connect with their own abilities, and to help make them aware of aspects of the world beyond their immediate existence. The point of high school is NOT to serve as a paradigm for the rest of the students' lives. And, as I say, if you're well into the middle years of your life, and you still are mainly focused on self-image and relationship issues left over from high school, then you seriously need to do something about your problems. And DON'T watch this stupid movie.

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17 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Too stupid

Author: lectureral from France
8 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I got this movie on the basis of its IMDb score and the one big name - Winona Ryder. I have to say - IMDb voters, you let me down this time. No way is this worth 7.6 (edit - my faith is restored in IMDb voters - the rating has dropped considerably, now) .

The premise is reasonable and could have been made into a really good movie but, oh dear, there are far too many stupid plot lines. Henry McCarthy goes back home to give the commencement speech at his old high school. He is picked up by his two best friends from the airport (one of whom is Josh Holloway - I didn't like him in Lost and I really didn't like him here) and then come the clichés: served coffee by one of his former classmates, stopped by the police while drink-driving - guess what, another former classmate who lets him go with a pat on the back.

The idea that the principal (Chevy Chase with a plaster on his nose (why??? - it wasn't funny)) would treat his former pupil turned important author as a naughty schoolboy was stupid. So too was the fact that Scarlet's boyfriend, the coach, acted like a jealous 18 years old. Stupid, also, was the police involvement after the prom - is there really an offence of having a private party with underage drinking in the States (maybe so, but surely not one of being a 38 year old man in the company of an 18 year old girl). And so it went on (do they leave show houses open at night? If his Dad was so keen on his car why didn't he run it through a carwash before returning it?)

When the commencement speech and dénouement with Scarlet did come they were both underwhelming.

All in all I think this film's rating should languish in the sub 6 territory (my personal watershed for whether a film is worth watching).

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Pleasant film, romcom fans will think its "cool"

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
8 October 2014

Henry (Mark Polish, who also wrote this movie) was a shy geek in high school. Now, many years after he left his small city, he's a mildly famous author. His most recent novel chronicled his own teen years, thinly disguised, especially his love for a fellow student, Scarlet (Winona Ryder). Quite unexpectedly, Henry finds himself traveling back to his roots when the current high principal (Chevy Chase) asks him to speak at the latest class graduation. No matter that HE doesn't even remember Hank, head educator wants FAMOUS. Reluctantly, Henry agrees to do it. But, all his old horrors come rushing back. First, his parents treat him like he's still a kid, needing to know where he's going and what time the car will be returned. Then, his old, grouchy English teacher (Frances Bay) insists on seeing Henry's speech beforehand, so she can evaluate it. Next, one of his oldest pals (Sean Astin) has come out of the closet and runs the local hair salon. Finally, Scarlet is now a pharmacist, beautiful still, but going through a messy divorce from the bully who used to make Hank's life miserable. Yet, will anything truly stop Henry from trying, once and for all, to get close to Scarlet? Even as a darling senior (Hillary Duff) makes a play for Henry, too? This pleasant film will please romcom fans; its totally cool for this crowd. But, it apes other films such as Romy and Michelle or any comedy about class reunions. From what I understand, the Polish brothers, one writes, one directs, have made some unique movies, beginning with Twin Falls Idaho and going on to The Astronaut Farmer. However, this one, despite its small charms, great cast, nice scenery, lovely costumes, polished script, and worthy direction is nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps the Polishes wanted to do something more "normal" this time around. And, they should be commended for joining forces to write, direct, and act in their own films. Yet, unless you truly like romantic comedies, this movie is probably not their definitive collaboration.

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Stay Away & Stay Fool:Hilary Duff Chooses A Wrong Script

Author: M MALIK from Pakistan
21 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

the title says it stay cool i say stay away or stay fool i am a Hilary duff fan as i have seen many of her films she;s not a action lady like Maggie Q she does romantic and comedy films some of her films are bad but many of them are underrated but this time she chooses the wrong script its a Winona Ryder film the story is about high school nostalgia that never ends with young guys in a kids movie someone should do age check before casting.

the plot:an author returns to his home and meets his old crush there plus Shasta O Niel is looking for her chances with the author how things turns out the answer lies in this film.

the cast:Winona Ryded looks nice Sean Austin mark polish and all guys did well but what was Hilary duff doing there here there is nothing written for her character she was just embarrassing herself.

i am not saying its about kids its a film for adults and young guys but the actors were behaving like kids everyone was having Jim Carey effect i guess some of them cant say proper dialog's.

overall if you are a fan of Hilary duff like me then do watch this but be warned this film is extremely rating is 3/10.skipp it

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Could be cool but it isn't

Author: hugobolso-1 from Uruguay
5 December 2011

For Winona Ryder fans, this could be a nice movie. This is the story of a successful novelist, who returns to his home to give a graduation speech. Even when none in his town (including his parents and friend) actually read the book. He still obsessed with his old high-school crush Scarlet (Winona Ryder) who is separated from the aggressive Gym Class Coach (Marc Blucas). A 17 years old, and daughter of fellow classmates, student Shasta (Hillary Duff) is attracted to him. And every thing gets wrong. This could be a wonderful comedy. Winona Ryder shines in every appearance and supporting roles by TV stars John Cryer, Frances O'Connor, Marc Blucas and Josh Holloway helps a lot. Even Duff is convincing. And John Austin could be hilarious if he could share some chemistry with the co-producer, co-writer and co-director Mark Polish.

Unfortunately Polish performance is the big main flaw of the movie. It's a pity that with many good Americans comedian this uncharismatic and grey guy has the lead.

The script is not that bad, and the last part of the movie is actually very good, touchy, very nostalgic, very 80s. With a better comedian like Paul Rudd or Jason Bateman could be an indie smash hit.

Chevy Chase should be replace also by another TV comedian in his 60s.-

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9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Well worth an hour and a half of your time.

Author: jpnobbs from United Kingdom
8 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film left me liking Henry and Scarlett a lot. Yes its clichéd and yes its unrealistic, but its a comedy, maybe a gentle comedy, but comedy none the less. Everybody has baggage left over from school/college, and this taps into that. Chevy Chase playing the principal was over the top, but thats what he does best. Hillary Duff looked gorgeous and so did Winona Ryder. And they played their parts well. They could easily have got another hour out of this and I would still have wanted more but maybe i'm just a big softy. Its easy to get hung up on details that don't ring true in movies but this does enough right to forgive its faults. Give it a go.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Underrated movie...such a pity!

Author: francescof86 from Italy
22 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Henry McCarthy(Mark Polish)is a successful author who returns to her hometown to deliver a closing speech to a class of graduating high school students while he has to deal with his former object of love(Winona Ryder)and his past as a nerd in search of himself.How this adorable comedy has fought to find a theatrically release is inexplicable to me.It's a beautiful film with some touching moments and funny situations as well.It is imbued with a sense of nostalgia and regret for the lost occasions but at the same time the lead will be able to come in terms with it and to accept it so he could live his future.I think that "Stay Cool"is a really underrated movie given the usual comedies who tries to portray this kind of topics we always see.Mark Polish is good while Winona Ryder gives a very captivating and genuine performance,although her role is not too demanding.The supporting cast varies from really good(Sean Astin,Josh Holloway,Chevy Chase)to merely ornamental(Hilary Duff who plays a pretty version of herself).My vote of the film is 7/10

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23 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

17 Again in Reverse

Author: Rack-Focus from Manhattan
24 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Can the high school geek who morphed into a best selling author finally bury his adolescent angst by retuning home to give the commencement address? And what about the cute cheerleader he was too shy to call after graduation - even though she asked him to? "Stay Cool" offers a fresh re-telling those familiar stories with a cast of quirky characters that will make you laugh and plenty of memorable lines that you'll long remember.

The film does its work by taking "17 Again" in reverse.

In "17 Again" high school king Zack Efron/Matthew Perry becomes a teen again to deal with issues he could not face as an adult. In "Stay Cool," former bottom feeder, Henry McCarthy (Mark Polish), is an adult, but remains trapped in a 20 year time warp because he never really grew up in the eyes of his hometown.

His parents tell him to eat his veggies and eavesdrop on his phone calls – while Principal Marshall (Chevy Chase) even goes as far as to suspend him from school.

Henry soon learns that to find peace he'll have to deal with issues he avoided long ago. The director-writer Polish brothers make Henry learn his lessons the hard way – from getting busted by the cops to attending the prom. At the Tribeca Film Festival premiere, director Michael Polish says he and his twin Mark crammed 20 years of dealing with high school pain into their movie. "Everything is there."

Complicating his quest is high school hottie Shasta O'Neil (Hillary Duff) who has a crush on Henry. And helping him are high crazy pals – gay hairdresser Big Girl and a butch tattoo artist played by "Lost's" John Holloway.

Of course the big unresolved issue is Henry's life is his high school crush Scarlet Smith (Winona Ryder). Weird, too, since the love interest in "17 Again" is also named Scarlett. As their reunion progresses, we learn, as Big Girl (Sean Austin) observes, that Henry "didn't come back to speak to a thousand people, he came back to speak to one."

And as Henry slowly finds his voice – and the words to his speech – he learns, as Scar told him long ago - how to "Stay Cool."

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