Michel Gondry’s latest is charming but slight, and its typical teen-boy obsessions about boobs and bullies are already well-trod ground.
I’m “biast” (pro): have enjoyed Gondry’s films I’m “biast” (con): tired of movies about teenaged boys
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Turns out that typical teen-boy obsessions — longings to touch boobs and deal smackdowns to bullies, etc — are pretty much the same even when they’re subtitled. So the latest from writer-director Michel Gondry (Mood Indigo) feels very familiar and, worse yet, very slight, lacking the fantastical whimsy of some of his earlier films and coasting, often literally, on the charms of its young misfits, though they are nicely drawn. Fourteen-year-old Daniel (Ange Dargent) — a sensitive artist called Microbe by mean classmates because he’s so small for his age — finds a pal in the school new boy, Théo (Théophile Baquet), who is instantly nicknamed Gasoline by the cool kids, because that’s what he always smells like. The movie is half over before it finally embarks on its grand adventure, as the boys build their own car — Gasoline smells that way for a reason: he’s good with engines — and take off for a summer of driving around rural France. The few truly clever and amusing moments revolve around the disguise they invent for their completely unroad-worthy vehicle — that it really does fool the cops is a joke in itself — but with their adolescent angst as passengers, the boys’ homemade car is covering already well-trod ground.
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