Big Time Adolescence review – huh, okay. Grown-ish

2.5

Summary

Hulu’s Big Time Adolescence doesn’t have enough depth, quick wit, or earnestness to stand out in a jam-packed genre– even if they all practiced social distancing.

There have been so many coming of age comedies since Dazed and Confused that they all have been repeated, copied, and blatantly ripped-off so much they tend to lose the heart ofstory that has any type of meaning. Big Time Adolescence, like Davidson’s character, is stuck in the memories of better films with a hollow center, aimless ambitions, about a generation that’s more “woke” than ever.

As a 10-year-old, Mo never had a big brother, but he had a figure of one in Zeke (the self-proclaimed, out-grown SNL star and every girl’s piece of arm candy, Pete Davidson), who is his older sister’s boyfriend, Kate (Grown-ish’s Emily Orlook). Like most high school relationships, they end, but not for 16-year-old Mo (Locke and Key‘s Griffin Gluck), who is now in his formative years and considers him his best friend. Zeke and his friends are stuck in empty-strip mall part mode, with no prospects for the future, while the Harris’s (Jon Cryer and Julie Murney) don’t seem to take an active concern in their son hanging out with a 23-year-old nightly.

Hulu’s latest streaming effort was written and directed by Jason Orley. This is his first feature; he previously directed Davidson in his Netflix stand-up special, Alive in New York. His script never quite finds the truth about what it wants to be — straight stoner comedy or coming of age film. When it does attempt to find an honest truth it comes from Cryer, and almost redeems itself, but it’s too late, in my opinion, and ultimately fruitless. Any parent would have recognized the toxic nature of this relationship in the years prior.

If Vin Diesel plays the same muscle-bound anti-hero in almost every film, Davidson seems to have a future in playing unmotivated, doped-up underachievers. The role of Zeke is a puffed-out version of his SNL Chad character, without any real emotional depth — which is the key in any man-child’s character when a film is asking you to take it seriously (for instance, Thomas Haden Church’s Jack in Sideways).

Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart reinvigorated the genre last May, which was perfected by Richard Linklater over 25 years ago. While Orley’s film has some moments of well-placed humor — Machine Gun Kelley draws a few nice moments of levity — Big Time Adolescence doesn’t have enough depth, quick wit, or earnestness to stand out in a crowded genre, even if they all practiced social distancing.


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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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