"With Friends Like These . . ."
What You Need To Know:
NEW BEST FRIEND attempts to be a cautionary tale about the pursuit of drugs, power and pleasure among college girls, but gets as lost along the way. Alicia is a poor, earnest student at Colby University, a playground for wealthy students in the picturesque countryside of North Carolina. She gets paired with Hadley for a senior thesis project. Hadley introduces Alicia to her roommates, Julianne, a bulimic, and Sydney, an oversexed bisexual. The three girls live together, while Alicia lives in town with her hard-working single mother. Alicia is at reluctant to join the world of reckless drug use, sex and thrill-seeking, but quickly falls headlong into the lifestyle. Instead of condemning this immoral lifestyle, the movie condemns Alicia for getting out of balance and breaking loyalties with fellow partygoers.
NEW BEST FRIEND has some redeeming qualities. The dangers of drug abuse are depicted, and the sheriff struggles with doing what is right or covering up the truth. There is also a strong message about the importance of parental involvement in the lives of children. Even so, the movie doesn’t warn loudly enough about the dangerous, immoral lifestyle that the characters embrace
(PaPa, HoHoHo, C, B, LLL, SS, NN, A, D, M) Pagan worldview depicted as pursuit of pleasure via drugs, alcohol and sex, with strong homosexual elements; slightly redemptive message as one character becomes “bored with getting high” and warns main character of danger; sheriff decides to pursue truth in spite of threats to cover up a crime; more than 37 obscenities and profanities; no violence; depicted fornication, lesbian sex scene, implied fornication, and sensuous dancing; rear male nudity in shower room and frequent shots of female breasts during sexual activity; alcohol use and abuse; smoking and drug use and abuse; and, deception and revenge are main themes of the story.
NEW BEST FRIEND attempts to be a cautionary tale about the pursuit of drugs, power and pleasure among college girls, but gets as lost along the way as its characters do in their destructive pursuits. Alicia (Mia Kirshner) is a poor, but earnest student at Colby University, a playground for wealthy students in the picturesque countryside of North Carolina. Alicia gets paired with Hadley (Meredith Monroe) for a senior thesis project – “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.” Alicia is far too nerdy for Hadley and her friends, but Hadley realizes that she won’t pass without Alicia’s help, so she reluctantly agrees to work with Alicia and invites her into her inner circle.
Wealthy, witchy Hadley introduces Alicia to her roommates, Julianne (Rachel True), a bulimic, and Sydney (Dominique Swain), an oversexed bisexual. The three girls live together on campus in style, while Alicia lives in town with her hard-working single mother. Alicia is at first reluctant to join the world of reckless drug use, sex and thrill-seeking, but (a little too) quickly falls headlong into the lifestyle.
The movie begins with Alicia’s overdose, then flashes back to tell the story of how it happened. The story follows Sheriff Artie Bonner (Taye Diggs) as he investigates Alicia’s friends after her mother files a complaint against them, believing that they did something deliberate to harm Alicia. The movie bogs down a bit here as it struggles with being both a cautionary tale and a whodunit, but the characters are intriguing and the story is compelling to watch unfold. As Bonner digs deeper into the lives of each of Alicia’s new friends, the seamy and sordid details of their recreational lives become more vivid and disturbing.
Their lives are a string of parties, flowing with alcohol and rife with drugs and sexual activity. Alicia quickly sets her sights on Hadley’s boyfriend. Her alcoholic and sexual pursuits spin completely out of control. Not only does Alicia become sexually involved with Hadley’s boyfriend, she is also seduced by Sydney and their homosexual encounter is graphically depicted on screen. NEW BEST FRIEND could do a great service here by condemning this reckless lifestyle, but instead Alicia’s friends are concerned not because she is into drugs, partying and sex, but because she is “out of balance.” She isn’t keeping things “under control.” This sends a dangerous message to young people that recreational drugs and experimental sex can be a fun part of college life, if kept in its place.
NEW BEST FRIEND has redeeming qualities. The sheriff struggles with doing what is right, or covering up the truth. There is a strong message about the importance of parental involvement in the lives of their children, and the danger of absentee fathers. One character does become disgusted with the excess, and the disastrous effects of Alicia’s overdose on several lives, but NEW BEST FRIEND should send a stronger and clearer message about the danger of the college party lifestyle. Director Zoe Clarke-Williams is right in her desire to make a movie about the need for acceptance and choices people make to gain it, but doesn’t warn loudly enough about the lifestyle that the characters in her movie embrace.
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