When I think of a coming of age story, my mind still goes to The Sandlot. This fact probably dates me, a tad, but my point is that stories of young people growing into their higher selves have changed a bit over time. Growing up has certainly changed. Concerned adults often wonder what all of this screen time, social media, and the like are doing to the youth and Big Time Adolescence is answering that questions.
The film is a coming of age story in its most contemporary sense. It is brutally honest, deeply unflattering, and just a little bit depressing. However, its bleakness is also its strength. Big Time Adolescence does not shy away from the challenges of growing up today.
Big Time Adolescence is written and directed by Jason Orley (The Intern) and stars Griffin Gluck and Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson. The film follows the bizarre friendship of a typical suburban teenager and his sister’s older ex-boyfriend, an aimless dropout (played by Davidson). The teen crosses important coming of age milestones and has close brushes with fucking up his entire life, under the destructive guidance of his unconventional “best friend.”
Nostalgia is a powerful drug, a hallucinogen if you really think about it. Like with all indulgent substances, nostalgia can be dangerous when one becomes too dependent on it. Go through any Facebook friends list and a person will likely find “that one person from high school.” The Peter Pan syndrome of the modern age where a handful of unlucky peers never quite grow up. They cling to the “glory days” and never really get anywhere or have any hope of advancing from where they are now.
Big Time Adolescence really taps into this kind of isolation; it’s showing what happens to “that one person from high school.” It’s tragic. The film is a tad grating. The immaturity is taxing, the characters are unsympathetic, and it’s deeply uncomfortable to watch a kid make so many bad decisions. It’s infuriating to see an adult fail to rise to the occasion.
The special genius of Big Time Adolescence is that I absolutely hated watching it. The film tugs on all of your negative emotions and shows you an ultimately hopeless scenario. You spend the entire film waiting for the shoe to drop. That’s not exactly the cinematic experience you hope for, but it’s an emotional journey that is cinematic escapism in its purest form.
Take from this what you will, but the listless loser is a role that comes very naturally to Davidson. He’s the perfect blend of irritating and compelling required to pull this role off. Performances across the board are expertly bleak and sets off the writing brilliantly. This film accomplishes exactly what it has set out to do, whether you like it or not.
Life is built on mistakes, mistakes that are cringe worthy to watch. Big Time Adolescence fully leans into this and the result is a remarkable modern coming of age tale. Proceed with caution, but I can’t help but recommend it.
Big Time Adolescence is now available on Hulu and in select theaters.
Big Time Adolescence
Life is built on mistakes, mistakes that are cringe worthy to watch. Big Time Adolescence fully leans into this and the result is a remarkable modern coming of age tale. Proceed with caution, but I canâ€™t help but recommend it.
Caitlin is a sweater enthusiast, film critic, and lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began with being shown Rosemary’s Baby at a particularly impressionable age and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves a good bourbon and hates people who talk in movies. Caitlin has been writing since 2014 and you can find her work on Film Inquiry, The Financial Diet, Nightmarish Conjurings, and many others. Follow her on Twitter at @CaitDoes.