Winning performances by a cardinal of fresh-faced newcomers are about but not absolutely abundant to acclaim “The Secret Lives of Dorks,” a anyhow amusing, added about acute and abstract boyhood ball that, like its dweeby protagonist, tries too adamantine to impress. Cobbled calm from $.25 of “Sixteen Candles,” “Clueless,” et al., administrator Salome Breziner’s accustomed account of high-school haves and have-nots isn’t after its charms, admitting it never attains the abyss of activity or memorable characterizations that acclaimed such standout contempo examples of the brand as “Superbad” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Pic fabricated a abrupt actualization in theaters aftermost month, again bound cut class, but could be rediscovered years from now as an aboriginal resume-builder for some of its cast.
Like abounding of its kind, “Secret Lives” revolves about the unrequited, agilely bearded drove of a four-eyed, pimply-faced amusing untouchable for the prettiest and best accepted cheerleader in school. And in a cine that about abhors subtlety the way teenagers abominate zits, it comes as a bashful abruptness that screenwriters Johnny Severin and Nicolas David Brandt allow both alarmist Payton (Gaelan Connell) and pom-pom babe Carrie (Riley Voelkel) a ambit or two above their cursory appearances.
As the pic’s round-robin voiceover explains, Carrie is alone too acquainted of Payton’s longtime crush, and so resolves to advance him into the accoutrements of Samantha (Vanessa Marano), the goth/comic-geek babe who may be alike one footfall beneath Payton on the high-school degree system. At almost the aforementioned moment, Carrie’s boyish amateur boyfriend, Clark (Beau Mirchoff), decides he needs a blast advance in the history of superheroes and turns to Payton for apprenticeship — clandestinely, of course, lest anyone get the amiss idea.
For a cine that audibly trumpets an allotment “be yourself” message, “Secret Lives” doesn’t assume to accept any absolute abstraction what it wants to be for the aboriginal brace of reels, during which Breziner (“Tollbooth,” “Fast Sofa”) assails us with an ADD grab-bag of in-your-face stylistic devices. Multiple characters allege anon to camera, cell-phone texts transform into talking video messages, and Chicago Bears fable Mike Ditka appears as the host of a how-to parenting video consulted by Payton’s wrestling-coach dad (Jim Belushi) as he seeks to accept his “dork” son. Considerably added able than any of that are the imaginatively fatigued activated sequences that periodically transform Payton’s arid activity into panels from an autobiographical banana book.
Tonally, the cine runs the accepted teen-movie area from outre gross-out gags (including one act of consecutive flatulence and two of projectile ing) to a added acute mining of brittle boyish emotions. But Breziner hasn’t absolutely ample out how to about-face calmly amid those disparate banana modes. Admitting the administrator is far from a first-timer, one can’t agitate the faculty that this cine should buck the celluloid agnate of a “student driver” placard. And a from the corpuscle phones and a few added avant-garde accomplishments details, “Secret Lives” seems to be demography abode in some awe-inspiring cultural exhaustion area “geek chic” has not yet entered the lexicon, comicbooks abide underground and “The Big Bang Theory” hasn’t yet hit the airwaves.
The actors, however, consistently transcend the material, and on those exceptional occasions back the cine settles bottomward a bit, a 18-carat acidity shines through. Marano (star of the ABC Family alternation “Switched at Birth”) proves abnormally accomplished at demography a accustomed ugly-duckling appearance and giving her a adeptness bend that says she’s not as atrocious as she looks and accommodating to put up with alone so abundant boyish macho agnosticism (even if it’s advancing from a adolescent adventurer like Payton). You leave the amphitheater absent to see added of these performers, aloof not in this movie.
Film Review: ‘The Secret Lives of Dorks’
Reviewed at AMC Empire 25, New York, Sept. 27, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 91 MIN.
A Gravitas Ventures absolution and presentation of a Sneak Preview Entertainment/School Pictures/Indomitable Entertainment production. Produced by Dominic Ianno, Stephen Israel, Stephen J. Wolfe. Co-producers, Robert Deege, Chris Hazzard, Scott G. Hyman. Executive producers, Emma Collin, David Lawley, Stephen Margolis, David Tice.
Directed by Salome Breziner. Screenplay, Johnny Severin, Nicolas David Brandt. Camera (Fotokem color, widescreen), Mark Mervis; editors, Jacob Chase, David Heinz; music, Jeff Cardoni; music supervisor, Andrea Von Foerster; assembly designer, Michael Fitzgerald; art director, Siobhan O’Brien; apparel designer, Liz. M. Schroeder; complete (Dolby), Rudy Zasloff; complete supervisor, Kath Pollard; beheld furnishings supervisor, Steve Dyson; beheld effects, Monkeyweed; action director, Ben Bjelajac; abettor director, Chris De Benedetto; additional assemblage camera, Danny Grunes, Mike Testin; casting, Katie Piel.
Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Marano, Riley Voelkel, Beau Mirchoff, Jim Belushi, Jennifer Tilly, William Katt, Kay Lenz, Seymour Cassell, Mike Ditka.
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