Normal Adolescent Behavior: Havoc 2
If you are wondering what
this movie has to do with the 2005 Anne Hathaway/Bijou Phillips morality
tale Havoc -- other than the basic theme of beautiful and smart
teenagers endangering themselves by indulging in their dark impulses --
you're not alone. Well, consider this: in the (extremely brief) theatrical run of Normal
Adolescent Behavior, there was absolutely no reference to the original movie in the
title. The Havoc 2 moniker has apparently been dumped on a
completely unrelated film for the
video release, undoubtedly by some cheesy corporate exec who
decided the franchise name could only help sales.
Frankly, it's a shame,
because Normal Adolescent Behavior (I'm going to skip the Havoc 2
references for the rest of the review, if you don't mind...) is a damned
good film that can stand on its own. Honestly, it's a better film than
Havoc. And it's not like that film was such a big hit either,
so how does the fake suggestion that this is a sequel help things in any way?
Adolescent Behavior is more reminiscent of a slightly older version of
Thirteen, another not-quite-mainstream examination of youth culture
spinning out of control.
Also like Thirteen,
it features a star-making, awe-inspiringly brave central performance by a
spectacular young actress who was best known for a TV role. In
Thirteen it was Evan Rachel Wood formerly best known as the anorexic
daughter on Once and Again. Here the revelatory performance is
supplied by Amber Tamblyn, probably best known as the title character in the
too-short-lived series Joan of Arcadia (though she has some films on
her resume as well, including Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and
The Grudge 2).
Tamblyn plays Wendy, a
slightly dysfunctional, vaguely goth, kind-of outcast but mostly together
high school senior. She and her friends have formed an outcast caste,
a clique of six students that do everything together -- hang out, party,
work on student counsel, have sex in various combinations -- their high
school world has become completely insular.
The group is run by Billie
(Kelli Garner), a beautiful, controlling, manipulative but somewhat insecure
girl. She is a good friend, but you don't want her to turn on you,
because she can be savage.
Everything changes in
Wendy's life when a white bread-but-cute guy (Ashton Holmes) moves in next
door. At first she tries to fight her attraction to him, but
eventually they get involved and she starts considering life outside of her
Once Wendy starts to stray,
Billie reacts angrily trying to keep things together. In the meantime,
Wendy must decide whether this one guy is worth losing her five best
Adolescent Behavior works hard to appear edgy and dangerous, in many
ways it's kind of old-fashioned. It's not cheerfully amoral like...
say, Larry Clark's Kids... and yet it is an intriguing look at the
changing morality of today's teenagers. Whether you take it as a
cautionary tale or just an anthropological study depends on your place in
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 13, 2007.