Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Full of It

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Unless you're the kind of person who lives for Canadian after-school specials or watches Teen Wolf on an infinite loop, there isn't a whole lot to recommend in Full of It, a mildly creative but ultimately listless post-pubescent fantasy that's being unceremoniously dumped into theaters this week. When the biggest name in the cast — failed talk-show host Craig Kilborn — seems to phoning in his two-scene cameo, you know you're in trouble.

It's not entirely for lack of trying. It's clear that at least some of the people behind the camera are fans of Wes Anderson's superlative high-school quirkfest Rushmore, and they've tried to give Full of It a similar hip-to-be-square vibe. With his big, drowsy eyes and bowl-cut hairdo, lead Ryan Pinkston is a dead ringer for Jason Schwartzman, or at least one of the nerds from Freaks and Geeks. The soundtrack is a decent mix of actual '70s punk and not-completely-awful current faux-punk tunes. But as the script single-mindedly churns through its high-concept premise — what if one geek's tall tales all suddenly started to come true? — it's clear the film's six credited screenwriters couldn't pop an original idea among them.

When Pinkston's 98-pound weakling Sam starts to see all of his wildest lies come miraculously to life — courtesy of, uh, a broken mirror — we're subjected to the usual stock teen fantasies: a red Porsche, Herculean athletic abilities, a kiss from Carmen Electra and a super-sized schlong to go with it. The best scenes involve Sam's suddenly cool parents (Cynthia Stevenson and John Carroll Lynch), who go from being uptight Beach Boys fans to pretentious conceptual artists and former Poison bandmates.

Those two have fun with their parts, but director Christian Charles doesn't get much from the other actors. The film is filled with well-trained TV performers who seem stiff and uncomfortable in their high-school setting. Most of the lines come off as stilted and forced, and, aside from the dreadful Kilborn, no one seems to have been encouraged to improvise. In fact, some of the best moments in Full of It are provided by inanimate objects: Kathleen Clime's clever production design loads up the screen with tons of hand-painted signage, cool T-shirts and ridiculous references to Sam's school mascot, a bug-eyed possum. If given the chance, she probably could've done a better job writing and directing the film too.

Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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