or What Chris Looks Like With His Hair Dyed Green
….. by TeeJay
The future is theirs, if they don’t get caught.
That’s the tagline of the movie, but I’m not sure it really captures the essence of the film. The tagline might imply the movie is mainly about the heist and the four friends’ desire not to get caught, but there is much more to it than that. Let’s take a look at the story first.
Polly, Chauncey, Jackson (whose first name is actually Tom) and Carl have known each other forever, went to school together and would walk through thick and thin together. At the same time, their personalities couldn’t be different. Polly is a straight-A student with a ticket to Harvard and her family’s pride and joy. Her boyfriend Chauncey’s forte is wrestling, which got him into State College; he isn’t very big on showing his feelings. Jackson is pretty much a mystery, a dreamer who doesn’t really know what he wants in life, and Carl is a renegade rocker on the outside but has his heart in the right place and occasionally wears it very much on his sleeve.
When Carl’s mother’s cancer takes a turn for the worse, the expensive hospital treatment cannot be reimbursed by her maxed-out medical insurance and Carl is left with the task of coming up with $100,000–and fast. Polly’s father manages a bank in town, and when he refuses to give Carl a loan, Polly’s idea is to rob her father’s bank since the money is insured in case of robbery or fire. What starts out as an absurd idea turns into a plan that soon becomes reality.
The four friends plot the heist for the morning of their high school graduation when everyone will be at the graduation ceremony and the bank will run on a skeleton crew. It helps that Polly used to work at the bank the last few summers, and soon everything is place and no obstacles seem to be left in their path. Except that some things don’t quite work out the way they planned. Getting access to the money isn’t as easy as it looked, and Carl’s date, Suzy gets him and everyone else in a very precarious situation.
At the same time, things come to a head with Chauncey, Polly and Jackson. Chauncey’s expectations for how their future should look don’t quite match Polly’s, who is drawn ever closer to Jackson and the subdued mysteriousness that surrounds him. This is not lost to Chauncey, he feels Polly slipping away further with every day that passes. Jackson, the smart and charming underachiever, steers through life without much of a master plan, isn’t sure what or who he wants to be. As graduation nears, he realizes that he needs to make a decision about what he wants to do with his life.
And no matter what personal struggles the four friends are going through, ultimately they have one common goal: To come up with the $100,000 to help Carl’s mom. It wouldn’t be fair to tell you if they succeed, to find out you will have to watch the movie yourself.
My overall impression of the movie? It’s not a cinematical or storytelling masterpiece, but I still loved it. Definitely a movie I can watch multiple times, not only because it has a great cast who all did a great job. It is never boring. The story is clever in its own way, it’s not your absolutely predictable and shallow crime caper. It has a big emotional aspect to it, it’s as much character-driven as plot-driven.
What I love most about it is the nuances. There are little things interspersed that you notice if you pay attention, nuances that add such a lot to the heart and soul of the movie and its characters. And I’m talking about really little things that maybe you don’t even notice. Like the way Carl pretends to kiss Jackson in the school hallway. Like the way Carl is sitting on the stretcher and Jackson has to pull him off of it when the nurse comes and takes it away. Like the way Suzy is holding on to Carl’s bloody t-shirt like it’s a precious treasure. I bet some of it wasn’t even scripted. And I daresay the kudos for most of these little nuances goes out to the actors who breathed life into these characters.
However, if you look a little more closely, there are plot holes that you can’t help but notice. It’s one of those movies where you better not ask too many questions that shouldn’t be asked, questions about details that don’t quite add up. If you’re someone who can’t overlook such details, then this might ruin the movie a little for you.
When I say the movie wasn’t too predictable, I don’t mean in an overall storyline kind of way. There were little things about the bank robbery that I found refreshing. The characters don’t always behave the way you expect them to, which makes for a few welcome twists here and there.
In summary I can say is that I really like the movie a lot for what it is. And Chris is absolutely adorable in it! And the best thing: He gets ample screen time. A must-see for any Chris fan (and I’m talking about either Chris for a change).
Carl Jenkins. An adorable sleepyhead with a big heart that he wears on his sleeve when it comes to his mom, and yet on the outside he’s trying to be a bit of a renegade rocker. Not to mention a total sweetie when it comes to courting the woman he falls for.
Plain and simple: Carl. Carl’s storyline is the most moving one, and maybe Carl is the most multi-faceted character in the movie. If I wanted to be more shallow, I could add that I really dug Carl’s looks. The green hair, the piercings, the clothes–it just worked. I also thought Carl and Suzy had great chemistry, they were a really cute couple.
If you’ve read my review (The Plot), you’ll already know that I liked the nuances and the little plot twists that you didn’t expect.
The minor plot holes and discontinuities. Some things just don’t seem to add up or don’t seem like they’re based in reality. Like the huge blood stain on the bank’s door and the absence of a bullet hole in it. Or the fact that during the hostage situation they let Polly walk up to the bank door. Or the presence of a SWAT team at the beck and call of the police force for the small town setting of the movie.
Let me say a few words about the DVD. It has some really nice extras, including deleted scenes (only one of which features Chris), a feature commentary by the director and the writer, a blooper reel, an alternate opening, a behind the scenes slideshow (about the statue in front of the bank) and storyboard comparisons.
It’s a shame the deleted scene with Chris M. and Chris L. had to be cut, it was really cute. But at least Mike admitted that it was the one scene he would like to have kept in the movie the most. He said sometimes you “have to kill your babies”, and this was one of them.
The blooper reel is hilarious, but there’s not a lot of Chris in it. The alternate opening isn’t very different from the actual opening and doesn’t have any scenes that didn’t end up in the final cut. The storyboard comparisons are interesting, but not a must-see.
If you listen to the feature commentary on the DVD (which I thoroughly enjoyed), you will notice that Mike Mayer and Cory Turner really seem to have liked Chris and his performance. They mention him quite a lot, and always sing praise:
Mike: “Chris Marquette, we haven’t said anything good about Chris Marquette yet. And I don’t hink I can say enough good things about Chris Marquette.”
Cory: “He’s amazing.”
One of Mike’s favorite scenes is the one where Carl takes the glasses off his sleeping mom and puts them on himself. He said that it was hard to pull off so it wouldn’t look cheesy or cliché, and Chris apparently did it.
Mike: “Carl was always where my heart was. Carl was the soft one.”
Mike also told this really cute story that I think I’ve read about in an interview somewhere too, where he did a lot of improvs with them in the hotel and then went out with them to Burger King, telling them to act in character. And Chris started bugging people and being really open and peppy, but Mike also said that it was great to watch because “Chris Marquette’s a quite shy person in real life.”
We learn that Chris got the real eyebrow piercing just for the movie. And that it got infected (and kinda gross) about three weeks into the shoot. Mike or Cory (I don’t remember) said that Chris showed true dedication. Chris was really proud of the fake Iggy tattoo he had for one scene, he ran up to Mike especially to show him the day they did it.
They had to re-dye Chris’s hair every two days. The make-up people asked Mike to change it to blue because there is permanent blue dye but not green. But Mike said for some reason it just needed to be green.
One of the guys mentioned that Chris and Aimee (Garcia) completely stole the show. They also said Chris was amazing at his spontaneity. He was always surprising in a beautiful way.
Cory said one of his favorite scenes was Carl’s little dance outside the bank. It wasn’t scripted what he was supposed to do, they just told Chris that Carl was really excited and triumphant about having landed a date with Suzy, and they told Chris to do what he thought would work. And it worked. It was really cute.
Interesting little tidbit: The movie was shot in just 26 days.
Another interesting tidbit: The cow you see walking through the school was called Grace and did a dump in the kitchen. (Ew?)
Here’s a very positive review from the Houston Chronicle from when the movie was screened at the Houston Film Fest in April 2007.
….. Movie trailer no. 1 → large version → small version
….. Movie trailer no. 2 on the North by Northwest Entertainment website
….. Facebook page
….. YouTube channel
….. Article about the movie in the Houston Chronicle
….. Stills and screencaps from the movie
….. Discussion about the movie on the message board