Surprisingly strong film shows the flipside of the dirty dirty
I just got back from an advance screening of ATL--the movie that cannot be marketed as a roller skating flick because Roll Bounce "didn't make money."
OK, so I guess that's a major spoiler in Warner Brother's eyes. But I think it's kinda cool to see a PG-13 movie set in current times that shows young men and women battling with the process of growing up. If you've seen lots of movies like me, you'll know where ATL borrows it's cues from--the friendships of Juice, the house party from House Party, the fat girl from Cooley High a dash of Purple Rain the broad tapestry of Last Picture Show or American Graffiti and the swagger of Saturday Night Fever. It also owes a lot to John Hughes' early work. That being said, director Chris Robinson, in his feature debut, delivers strong visuals and an excellent soundtrack/score that constantly reminds you that these are real places, people and problems. He gets excellent performances from his cast--a mix of veteran actors and musicians in their film debuts.
The big plot twist in the story (which I won't give away) raises a very interesting question that the movie with as broad a scope as ATL has no way to answer--do these young girls project a "grown-up" attitude because it's fashionable or is it the only way to find love and attention from these young boys who are, in their own way, desperately in search of their own manhood without the guidance of true role models? ATL tels a very familiar story but with interesting hues and nuances that defy the typical "hood" flick. I encourage you to check it out in theaters.
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