"Godless, Immoral Portrayal of Teenage Angst"
What You Need To Know:
These teenagers make some of the worst decisions possible. At one point or another, all of them drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. There’s little redemptive content to counteract these dark doings. Sometimes, the characters share a moment of affection or companionship, but nothing much comes out of that. PALO ALTO has a strong humanist worldview based on feelings. It presents a dark view of American teenage life with no biblical, religious, or spiritual values to guide, engage, or inspire viewers. Besides the substance abuse, there’s plenty of foul language and brief salacious nudity in PALO ALTO.
(HH, Ro, APAP, Ho, LLL, VV, SS, NNN, AAA, DDD, MMM) Strong humanist worldview based on Romantic feelings of aimless, angst-ridden teenagers who party, drink, smoke dope, engage in sexual experimentation, and have no moral or spiritual foundation, plus a dark view of American teenagers that makes them look worse than they probably are, with little redemptive content to lighten the darkness and some homosexual elements when a father is stoned and seems to make a pass at his son’s male friend, but the boy leaves, and another father acts in a weird, effeminate way; at least 151 obscenities (mostly “f” words), one Jesus profanity, seven light profanities such as MG, and teenage boy vomits after drinking too much; strong violence with some blood afterwards when teenage girl smashes bottle against teenage boy’s head, minor fender bender, and teenage boy threatens people with knife in a crazy way that you don’t know if he’ll stab someone or not; strong sexual content involving teenagers includes implied fornication between two teenagers, implied oral sex between teenagers, implied fornication between student and her soccer coach, crude language, and teenage babysitter briefly exposes boy to nudity in movie on TV; teenage boy has a small full nude photo of some woman hanging in his room in one scene, shot of upper female nudity in one or two scenes, and brief upper male nudity; underage teenage alcohol abuse; teenagers smoke cigarettes and marijuana; and, very bad role models for teenagers, teenage drunk driving, hit-and-run, teenager mouths off to traffic cop, teenage vandalism, teenager deliberately drives wrong way on freeway, bizarre art teacher, it’s implied that art students are drawing nude models but nothing explicit is shown.
PALO ALTO is a slow-moving drama about some aimless, angst-ridden white teenagers in Southern California who party, drink, smoke dope, hang around, engage in sexual experimentation, and have no moral or spiritual foundation. It’s a badly structured story with no premise that desperately wants to be taken seriously. MOVIEGUIDE® isn’t buying what the filmmakers are selling, and neither will average moviegoers, who have much better things to do with their time.
In the story, such that it is, a high school senior named April is a shy soccer player and frequent babysitter to her coach, Mr. B. She’s also friends with Teddy, an artistically inclined boy who hangs around with Fred, an unpredictable delinquent with few filters or boundaries. April gets involved with her coach while Teddy has to perform community service for a drunk driving and hit-and-run fender bender. Meanwhile, Fred seduces Emily, a loner who seeks affection through sexual encounters.
These teenagers make some of the worst decisions possible. Though an intelligent girl otherwise, April begins an affair with her soccer coach. She also briefly exposes the coach’s young son to a nude scene in a movie. Emily has sexual encounters with both Teddy and Fred. Fred threatens a dope dealer with a knife and deliberately drives the wrong way down a freeway at night. Teddy mouths off at a traffic cop and lets Fred endanger his community service punishment for drunk driving. Finally, at one point or another, all of the teenagers drink alcohol or smoke marijuana.
There’s little redemptive content to counteract all these dark doings. Sometimes the teenagers share a moment of affection or companionship for one another. At one point, the reckless Fred starts crying, which indicates that he may realize how messed up he is and how badly he’s behaving. At another point, Teddy shares his artistic talent with an elderly woman at a senior citizens home. Nothing much comes out of these brief moments, however, even though it seems at the end that April and Teddy have a close friendship going that may lead to something more for them. Even if true, the movie provides no moral, spiritual, or intellectual foundation for them, other than Teddy’s interest in art.
In the end, PALO ALTO has a strong humanist view based on feelings. The premise is unclear, there’s a lot of strong foul language, and the teenagers seek solace in sex, alcohol, and drugs. PALO ALTO presents a pretty dark view of American teenage life with no biblical, religious, or spiritual values to guide, engage, or inspire viewers in a deeper way. Like too many independent movies, it’s a godless, somewhat boring exercise with no moral rudder.