Teen comedies over the years have generally been not too realistic, in particular if the rating is PG-13. The best ones move over into the R rating as the “r” in this case stands for “realistic”. Movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and American Pie seem to have a firmer grasp on what it is like to grow up as a teenager that includes dealing with silly and serious matter at the very same time. The Edge of Seventeen does that very poignantly as well, which i discovered this past weekend upon seeing a matinee of it at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13.
I for one am a huge Hailee Steinfeld fan, as she is doing quite an amazing job at a career both in the movies and for music as well (her song “Starving” recently cracked the Top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100″). She is the lead character in The Edge of Seventeen, playing Nadine, a purposeful outcast who tends to hate the world around her for many different reasons. While going through high school, she only has one friend that she has kept since she was a kid named Krista, played very well by ingenue Haley Lu Richardson. The two of them play against each other greatly in the beginning of the film, where you get a great understanding of why they became friends in the first place.
Before any of that comes to play, the film starts with Nadine barging into her teacher Mr. Bruner’s classroom, played by Woody Harrelson. She proceeds to tell him she is going to kill herself, and before we get to the next part of that it flashes back to Nadine describing her upbringing and her special bond with her father and not so special bond with her mother, played respectively by Eric Kenleeyside & Kyra Sedgwick. It also showcases her somewhat disdain for her older and popular brother Darian, played by the uber handsome Blake Jenner. This relationship ultimately becomes to key part of Nadine’s transition throughout the movie, as she goes from being the modern day Daria and/or Julia Stiles in “10 Things I Hate About You” into someone who sees the world in a more positive light. It just takes the people around her to get her to really see that.
Through the loss of her father in her earlier teen years, Nadine really has a hard time adjusting to letting people in and ultimately enjoying herself as whole. The awkward aspects about her play out in hysterical ways throughout, whether it is chatting it up with Erwin, who is the best part of this whole movie and is played by Hayden Szeto, or her epic fails of flirting with “bad boy” Nick Mossman, played by Alexander Calvert. You really see someone trying to put themselves out there, but doesn’t necessarily see what they are doing to the people she comes across, including Nick, Erwin, Darian, Krista and many others.
It is this teen angst that Nadine has developed so exhaustingly that it comes to a head in a crucial scene towards the end of the film where you really get an understanding that the people who are around you are really looking out for you, you just don’t see it or want to see it a lot of the times. Woody Harrelson brilliantly plays the teacher role in this movie, who spends most of it making fun of Nadine in many different ways, but at the same time being there for her when she needs it the most. Overall, The Edge of Seventeen really is a fantastic teen comedy that all ages will appreciate, as in some part of our lives, we find ourselves being exactly how Nadine was in this.
I have high hopes that The Edge of Seventeen will garner some Golden Globe nominations coming up, especially for Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. For more information about the movie, check out their IMDB page, and to see where it is playing at your local AMC Loews, click here.