COVID-19 has temporarily shuttered the cinematic experience. For the first time in my life, I can’t go to the movies. It’s a surreal time for film lovers. There’s an added level of “what the fuck”ness when you have a gig that involves seeing a movie every week for 15 years. Fortunately, the entertainment industry has provided many options for watching new movies via myriad streaming services.
Before I dive into this week’s review, I want to share a few options for home-based entertainment ahead of these long days of isolation we’re facing. We’re all aware of paid services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu, but for folks who are looking at cutting back, there are a few “free” streaming services, including Tubi, IMDB TV, and YouTube (where, yes, you can find legal full-length movies). Tubi (online at Tubitv.com, or via the app store) has a lot of quality classics like “Night of the Living Dead,” “Bull Durham,” “Road to Perdition,” “Grizzly Man” and “Memento,” in addition to modern fare like “The Founder” and “Train to Busan.” The cinematic purist in me scoffs at the idea of having to endure advertisements during a movie, but my pragmatic realist side realizes people might need entertainment options during tight economic times.
In lieu of a trip to the cinema, I sat down on my couch to watch a movie that premiered on Hulu last week: the coming-of-age comedy “Big Time Adolescence.” Mo (Griffin Gluck) is a typical teenager with an atypical social circle, characterized by a 23-year stoner named Zeke (Pete Davidson). Their friendship started after Zeke dated Mo’s sister and has continued for six years after the couple broke up. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Thanks to his friendship with kids no longer in high school, Mo doesn’t really care about daily teenage melodrama. He and Zeke spend their time drinking, listening to music and finding idiotic ways to enjoy life.
Mo’s father (the great John Cryer) is less than thrilled with Mo’s circle of friends. His son is spending every waking moment with Zeke and losing interest in hanging out with his family and participating in extracurricular activities. Things get more complicated for Mo when a school acquaintance convinces him to use his connections to get liquor for a party. Zeke sees an opportunity and loads up Mo with medical marijuana to sell, and a booming business opportunity is born.
For the first time in his life, Mo isn’t invisible to his classmates. Suddenly, he’s the life of the party; everybody knows his name and lines up to get whatever Zeke can get his hands on. Mo is now popular, more confident, and has worked up the courage to talk to the girl he’s been crushing on. What could possibly go wrong? Well, with a plot that involves being a teenage drug pusher, a lot.
I enjoyed “Big Time Adolescence.” Writer/director Jason Orley packs the film with equal helpings of heart and humor. He allows his characters to be deeply flawed but extremely sympathetic. Pete Davidson’s Zeke is the highlight of the film. He’s a thoughtless, perpetually stoned id, chasing good feelings and positive vibes. There is no consideration of consequence and no interest in pleasing anyone other than himself. He’s both the best thing that happened to Mo and the worst—a best friend who would do anything for Mo, and a bad influence that leads him down an unproductive path of self-destruction. Kudos to Davidson, who shows a previously unseen range as he transitions from stand-up to the screen.