30 November 2011 | evanston_dad
Into the Woods as Boys, Out of the Woods as Men
I liked Mark Duplass quite a lot in "Humpday," and there are several moments in "True Adolescents" when you get a glimpse of what a good actor he has it in him to be. But what also struck me about his performance in this coming-of-age story was how unlikable he can be when paired with the wrong material.
He plays an immature musician, drifting through life and pissing off just about anyone who might be willing to tolerate him, until, bottomed out and crashing in his aunt's house, he agrees to take her son and his best friend on a camping expedition when the kid's father bails on him (for what, we are to understand, is the umpteenth time). While on that trip, something happens between the two teenagers that jeopardizes, and perhaps with dangerous results, their trip and forces Duplass into the role of adult, a role for which he is not overly suited.
We're supposed to think Duplass is a loser, and I suppose we're even supposed to get impatient with him, but I also think we're meant to find him funny and charming, and I just didn't. Some people have a knack for being snide and sarcastic while still being winning, and some don't. Guess which camp Duplass falls in for me? My viewing experience of "True Adolescents" wasn't at all helped by the fact that the Netflix streaming version I saw screwed up somewhere toward the end so that the picture and the soundtrack were operating entirely independently of one another, so maybe it's not fair of me to judge the film too harshly.
The cast includes Melissa Leo as Duplass's aunt, and makes me start to wonder if Leo, an actress I usually like very much, has decided that her best career move is to appear in absolutely any movie someone offers to her.