Hollywood Cookie Cutters can be a guilty pleasure, good as background chatter, to be glanced at between reading, writing and or having a nap. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has an occasional edge. Straight Outta Compton has scenes with great music. 10 Cloverfield Lane has John Goodman. Midnight Special has domes of light. And Everybody Wants Some has the glimpses of what Richard Linklater used to do – make a decent film.And yet each of these mind-numbing 2015/16 releases – desperately displaying arc points as they stumble derivatively through genre – scored an average rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. This begs the question: How did audiences get this stupid?Oh, I forgot.
I’ve finished a first draft of my coming-of-age high school script and, in trying to avoid cliches, have often reflected on the best of the genre. By my reckoning, there is a pantheon of five films, all of which have characters, story and dialogue that ring true.
5. Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)4. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)3. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)2. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)1. Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)Interestingly enough, except for Superbad, these films were directed early in each filmmaker’s careers, all of whom went on to be nominated for Oscars. We’ll see what Mottola does next.