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The 2022 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 20 - 30, in Park City, Utah

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"Big Time Adolescence" - Review From Sundance

First time director Jason Orley, alongside budding star Pete Davidson, unleash an emotionally draining yet cheerfully humorous coming of age story with Big Time Adolescence. The film leaves you both regretting the terrible decisions of your youth while longing for those days at the same time. It ultimately asks the question if bad decisions as an adolescent are a healthy, normal part of life, or pitfalls we ought to avoid.

Big Time Adolescence is the type of movie that just may blow up as a cult classic. It has everything that you want in a coming of age story; drugs, sex, tattoos, relevant music, teenage angst, clueless parents, an intriguing young star, and an ‘Almost Famous’ moment. It’s not basic either. Rather than limiting itself to a desperate, hormonally driven young boys quest for manhood, it dives deep into the psychology behind the pressures of modern-day youth. As Davidson’s character Zeke would say, “it’s fucking sick dude.”

There has been a lot of hate swirling around the internet in the direction of Pete Davidson. There’s no point in going into too much detail, but it has come to a bit of a halt lately as he threatened to end his own life if people didn’t leave him alone. I think it’s safe to say it went a little far. What he did in this performance may just be what turns around his persona in the eyes of internet youth culture. His vulnerability and brutally honest humor are sure to win over the hearts of some of his strongest objectors. There is a thin line between hate and love, a line which some may cross after seeing his latest performance.

Griffin Gluck, fresh off his hit Netflix mini-series American Vandal, plays the impressionable lead Mo. His performance balances out the energy of Davidsons perfectly. He demands nothing, letting everyone around him deliberate his every move. He represents the danger of being confused and directionless as a modern day teenager.

The story is simple. It follows Mo being best friends with the much older Zeke. Zeke is that cool older guy that seems cool because he can get kids beer and pot but it turns out he’s not that cool because he’s getting young kids beer and pot. On the surface, that’s all the movie is. But the true charm does not come from the surface, it comes from the emotional idiosyncrasies that are really only made possible by Davidson’s acute ability for comedic self-awareness.

Jon Cryer adds an element of insecurity as he’s known to do. He plays Mo’s overbearing but well-intentioned father, bringing to the table a necessary voice of reason that comes from a genuine place of fear. His role shows just how important a strong father figure is. He is all that is standing in the way of Mo becoming just like Zeke.

Machine Gun Kelly, randomly enough, is in it too. He’s not much more than a less charismatic version of Davidson’s character. His performance feels like he’s trying to emote like Davidson but slightly more on meth. The director uses him well and allows his lines to pop out unexpectedly for cheap laughs. Honestly, it is a perfect role for him and his presence will surely draw a strange crowd of its own.

The buzz surrounding it at the festival is certainly encouraging. Say what you will about Davidson, but he certainly turns heads and whatever he does seems to attract major headlines. People were clamoring to get a chance to see this film largely because of how interesting Davidson, and the surrounding cast is. He is a relevant figure in the culture right now and with a powerful, relatable story to back him with strong buzz coming out of a major festival, the film undeniably has all the pieces to be a hit.

Written by: Cameron Lui



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