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Wasted on the Young (2010)
DVD Released: 4/23/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/30/2013
In my recent review forThe Grapes of Death, I wrote about the international appeal for horror films and how one can view scary movies from different countries and different cultures and find that they have similar themes and content. While not as often, the same goes for other genres as well. As one spans the globe, life certainly varies from country to country, but there is one constant which can be found in developed nations -- teenagers will be teenagers. There will be specific differences between regions, but the behaviors are often quite similar, and we see this in the Australian entry Wasted on the Young.
Wasted on the Young focuses on a group of students who attend a posh private school. Darren (Oliver Ackland) lives with his half-brother Zack (Alex Russell) and both are on the swim team, but that's where their similarities end. Zack is the king of the school and runs with the popular crowd. He has no interest in academics. Darren is into computers and spends time chatting on line with others with similar interest. He has a crush on Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), but is afraid to approach her. When Zack throws a huge house party, Darren opts to stay in his room until her learns that Xandrie is there. However, he loses track of her and doesn't learn until later that someone taints her drink and something awful happens to her. Following this, Darren begins to see that Zack and his friends are not only shallow, but they border on being evil as well.
The title, of course, refers to the quote "Youth is wasted on the young" from George Bernard Shaw. In the context of the film, this most likely refers to the fact that most of the characters ignore the opportunities around them in favor of drunken frivolity. From this, one could assume that the film has some sort of bold statement to make. If it does, it, and the characters, get lost along the way.
First of all, nothing about Wasted on the Young comes across as original -- at least to American viewers it won't. We get a lot ofGossip Girl meets The O.C. meets Less Than Zero and any other movie or TV show you can think of which indulges in the excesses of spoiled and rich teenagers. We get the typical beautiful people who are involved in self-destructive behavior and never worry about the consequences. Sex, drugs, and drinking are simply a normal part of their routine, while school and the real world take a backseat. Writer/Director Ben C. Lucas goes overboard with his artsy approach, but he's tried to bring some novel ideas to the movie, such as how text message float in mid-air on-screen. (We've seen something like this before, but it works well here.) I would have to go back and watch the movie again to verify this (which is something that I don't want to do), but I don't remember seeing any adults in the movie. These stories always present a world where adults are absent, but if Lucas was able to pull off a movie which was completely free of grown-ups, then that would be a coup. Again, outside of that, everything here feels like a prime-time teen soap.
Wasted on the Young's real trouble lies in Lucas' skills as a story-teller. As a first-time feature-film director, he should have focused on telling a complete, cohesive story instead of trying to Tarantino things. Yes, Wasted on the Young is one of those movies which jumps back and forth through time, but it does so in a truly unnecessary manner. The film introduces flashbacks which are meant to show us how friendships began or what relationships used to be like, but the approach feels cliched and it doesn't work. That doesn't compare with the problems in the second half of the film, where things completely fall apart. The first half of Wasted on the Young tells a fairly comprehensive story. However, after the halfway mark, the character's actions and motivations cease to make any sense and no one does anything which falls in line with logic. It's not as the movie suddenly became avant garde, it's more like everyone in the movie suddenly suffered some sort of brain trauma and forgot how the world works. When we don't buy or grasp why a character is doing what they are doing, a movie ceases to work and the finale is simply ludicrous.
Yes, the out-of-control teenager movie has been done to death, but not unlike the aforementioned horror film, it's a good place for a young filmmaker to take off. Lucas has some good ideas and his shots with the swimmers looks great, but he loses control over the story. If a more subtle approach to revenge had been used, the movie could have really stood out. As it is now, the movie comes across as derivative and unfocused.
Wasted on the Young never explains how Daz is short for Darren on DVD courtesy of Indomina Releasing. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. Lucas has gone nuts with the blue look here (I can only imagine that this is how James Cameron sees the world) and this has rendered some scenes slightly dark and it also robs the movie of any bright colors. For a DVD, the picture is fairly sharp and shows acceptable depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The party scene provides palpable bass effects which come from the subwoofer and the front channels. The stereo and surround effects also come to life in these scenes and we get a nice feeling of being in the middle of things.
The lone extra on the Wasted on the Young DVD is a TRAILER for the film.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.