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The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/14/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/3/2017

Remember that movie where high school is portrayed as a simple and possibly boring place? Yeah, me neither. In the world of cinema, the upper grades are portrayed as the stuff of nightmares, filled with social mine-fields, truly evil people, and impossibly awkward situations. Why are things always blown out of proportion like this? The problem which this creates is that when one of these movies get close to a genuine emotion or a realistic situation, it can be difficult to trust due to the parade of exaggerations which have come before. The Edge of Seventeen is a great example of this, as the movie relies far too much on histrionics and doesn't invite the audience to play along.

Things haven't been going so great for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld). Her family suffered a tragedy when she was younger. She's never really gotten along with her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), as he's the kind of person who seems to do everything effortlessly. Her Mom (Kyra Sedgwick) is always busy working. Worst of all, Nadine has never felt comfortable in her own skin, and feels that she can't overcome her awkward looks. The only bright spot in her life is her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). The two meet in elementary school and have been inseparable for years. But, when a rift forms between them, Nadine feels herself going into a spiral where she lashes out at everyone and has no idea what to do with herself.

The Edge of Seventeen is the latest film to straddle the line between studio film and independent project. The subject matter -- high school kids and their problems -- isn't very original, but the movie attempts to introduce some edgy material into this. There's talk of suicide and sex (not at the same time), along with some more emotional content. Nadine is portrayed as a "real girl' who isn't perfect and is very uncomfortable in her own skin. In fact, the movie takes a real chance by making Nadine decidedly unlikable at times. We watch her push away everyone around her (is she a budding Borderline?) and her reaction to what Krista does could certainly be considered histrionic. (I'm not saying that she doesn't have a right to be upset, but I think that most would agree that she overreacts.)

At the same time, this movie is very mainstream. We've got a group of familiar faces inhabiting a very slick-looking movie. No one here looks like the sort of actors who can populate independent movies, most notably Jenner and Richardson. We've got Woody Harrelson providing comic relief as Nadine's teacher, and while he may steal the movie, nothing about his character or his performance falls outside of the norm. As noted above, the movie attempts to be edgy, and there is certainly some frank language here, but things come together very nicely, and some would say in a very Hollywood way in the third act. Now, is this a bad thing? I'm going to say no, as I'm tired of movies which have downbeat or cynical endings. The finale of The Edge of Seventeen actually teaches a good lesson. But, having said that, it certainly does line up with the rebellious nature of the film's opening and it can be argued that it wraps things up a little too nicely.

Besides the fact that the Stevie Nicks' song which inspired the film's title is nowhere to be found here, the other major problem with The Edge of Seventeen is that it doesn't do anything to stand out from the crowd. As noted above, the main premise isn't very original and nor are subplots like "girls are attracted to bad boys when they've got a good guy standing right in front of them" or " kids and parents don't get along sometimes". The movie has elements of comedy and drama, but certainly leans more towards the latter. Outside of Harrelson, there's only one funny moment. The drama works at times, but I wish that it had been inserted into a movie which had more to say. The Edge of Seventeen isn't a bad movie, but it will only appeal to teenagers who haven't seen the many films which influenced it.

The Edge of Seventeen contains some interesting wardrobe choices on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the reds and blues, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is notable and the depth is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the film sounds good and a party scene provides some nice surround and stereo effects. The opening sequence delivers notable stereo effects.

The Edge of Seventeen Blu-ray Disc is decidedly lacking in extra features. We get three DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes. Two of these are extended versions of scenes from the film, while the third is new. The only other extra is a 5-minute GAG REEL

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long