Beware the Gonzo (2010) Is Intelligent Teenage Angst - Technorati Film
True confession time: I avoid movies about teenagers, especially comedies. It’s not that I don’t like teens; I happen to find them interesting and personable (okay, not all, but the majority). Most of the films I’ve seen about teenagers make them seem stupid and vapid, trivial people with trivial interests (or obsessions). Every once in a while there’s a very good movie about teenagers (Juno), but it’s not necessarily intelligent films that make a lot of money, hence there is a greater interest in making exploitative films that appeal only to younger audiences.
Bryan Gobuloff’s directorial debut, Beware the Gonzo, did not appeal to me, but it’s a movie I am very glad to have seen, and happily recommend. It’s a film about rebellious teens, but the kind who are too often missing from modern screens, rebels with a cause. Its talented, youthful cast brings verisimilitude to a story about prep school out-crowd kids who create their own newspaper and website because their opinions don’t matter to that small but influential in-crowd.
Ezra Miller stars as Eddie “Gonzo” Gilman, a boy who wants to write interesting, in-depth reports for the school newspaper, but is censored by popular editor/jock/bully Gavin Reilly (Jesse McCarthy). After the two fight, Gonzo decides to start his own paper with the help of his friends, a likable group of outcasts with axes to grind. Zoe Kravitz stars as Evie Wallace, a girl with a very bad reputation, thanks to Gavin Reilly. There is a large supporting cast of kids who are so authentic they might make adult viewers misty for their high school years--um, probably not.
As Gonzo’s encouraging father, Campbell Scott gives a nicely-laid back performance that complements Gonzo’s over-reactive, somewhat screechy mom, played by Amy Sedaris. The parents love their son, but they don’t necessarily want the same things for him. James Urbaniak is on-target as the ever-political Principal Roy, a man who wants kids to like him and think he’s cool, but isn’t going out on a limb to support any of them.
With an underlying theme of “things aren’t always what they seem,” Beware the Gonzo touches on the fragile ties of friendship, loyalty, independence, and responsibility with Gonzo learning that very important lesson, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Ezra Miller sensitively translates what could have been a two-dimensional character into an interesting, multi-dimensional person who appeals to the audience.
NewVideo releases Beware the Gonzo, a Tribeca Film, January 24, 2012, on digital and DVD.