Review by Sean Boelman
The first major starring vehicle for SNL player Pete Davidson, Big Time Adolescence is a raunchy but heartfelt coming-of-age comedy. Thanks to a witty script tuned specifically to the talents of its performers, this is a memorable and often hilarious entry into the genre, even if it does follow some familiar beats.
The film tells the story of a teenager as he struggles to grow up while being influenced by his best friend, a well-meaning but untrustworthy college dropout. In terms of coming-of-age movies, this doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s effective nonetheless, exploring how not only the teenage protagonist, but also his older mentor.
Arguably the most impressive part of the film are its character arcs. The movie is surprisingly emotionally-charged thanks to the way in which the film builds the relationship between the two leads of the movie. There’s a great deal of honesty to the core friendship of the movie, and anyone who has ever felt like an outsider among the people they were expected to be friends with will find themselves emotionally affected by this story.
The film does sacrifice some potential for thematic depth in favor of jokes, but there are still some ambitious ideas being explored throughout. Even in scenes that feel like goofy throwaways, there can be some subtext that adds to the characters’ arcs. For a ninety-minute comedy, there’s a lot happening in this movie.
Still, as one would expect, the film has a lot of great comedic moments that take advantage of Davidson’s talents. The writer-director of the movie, Jason Orley, later went on to direct one of Davidson’s stand-up specials, so it’s clear that this director-performer dynamic works extremely well in creating a hilarious product.
Davidson is obviously very funny in his role, but perhaps more impressive is the level of emotional nuance he is able to bring to the character. Davidson isn’t someone who would immediately seem like a talented dramatic actor, those sequences are almost stronger than the humorous ones. Young actor Griffin Gluck is also very strong.
On a technical level, the film does feature some very strong production design for a comedy like this. A great deal of attention is put into the set design, particularly that of the house of Davidson’s character. Although the movie is understandably more focused on the script and performances than the visual style, there are still some notable elements.
Big Time Adolescence is a lot of fun to watch because it has a great balance of humor and heart. In this time in which society is being faced with a lot of darkness, it’s nice to have a film that will leave you laughing and smiling.
Big Time Adolescence is now in theaters and on Hulu.
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