I could start off this review in Singlish by saying "This movie damn havoc", and it just about sums it up accurately and nicely. Sex, drugs and gangsterism from the hop is hip culture, this movie attempts to provide a social commentary about the lives of super rich teenagers in the Palasades, wasting their bored lives away by trying to emulate another culture they think is cool, the wannabes who chose not to conform to the norms, but try their darndest best to be one in the 'hood.
Anne Hathaway assumes the lead role as Allison Lang, a wide-eyed teenager whose language is as beautiful as her appearance. Having her material needs satisfied by her ultra rich parents, but living in essentially an empty home, her friends and her seek out the alternative lifestyle which promises loads of fun and excitement - drugs, drink and fights. Being associated with a gang brings about some perceived self esteem and self worth. But where do you draw the line when you're always seeking another high moment?
A journey to "downtown" - the areas of the have-nots, where seedy bogeymen reside in, areas where parents warn their children to stay away from, sparks a discovery of a wonderland for Allison and her best friend Emily (Bijou Phillips), as they make repeated trips to be amongst the real boys in the 'hood, to hang out, chill, and do whatever them wannabes have done at a magnitude of 10. It's a primal attraction and sexual tension between the girls and the men (not the boys they hang out with, who pee in their pants when faced with real danger - acting cool is not cool), and between Allison and Hector (Freddy Rodriguez).
But like all revelations, sometimes it takes the hard way to learn a lesson, and the movie picked up on this rather rapidly in the last third, once they got enticed into playing a game of dice (with sexual connotations) in order to be initiated into Hector's gang. Basically, the audience observes the attraction of an alternative lifestyle, of wannabes thinking they can handle it all, and of redemption and change.
While it was a surprise to see Michael Biehn in the movie, the movie clearly belonged to Anne Hathaway in her very first attempt to break away from her goody-two-shoes roles like in the Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted. However, with the M18 rating here, this movie suffered cuts where it really mattered, and a poor edit too at one of the more pivotal scenes which literally screwed up the understanding of what actually happened, only to be told at face value, suggesting the "truth" of the matter, at a later stage. Sometimes I wonder why not release it as R21, and keep the film intact. Surely Hathaway has fans, but to mutilate the movie to let them in, is a bad decision.
It's peculiar to have the movie released this week, up against Singer's SUperman. Maybe some rebellious bored teenagers happen to be the answer to balance the truth and justice that the last son of Krypton embodies?