ry Seventeen" (aka "All I Want")
could most definitely have been better, but it's restrained by a lot of things,
one of which is the need to be too mainstream. It's a crowd pleaser, with an
attractive cast and a screenplay that is more witty than bland -- all good
things for the undemanding moviegoer. And yet, the movie won't stay with you for
long, because it simply doesn't want to be more than just slightly better than
Elijah Woods, taking a brief respite from his duties as
Frodo the Hobbit in "The
Lord of the Rings" trilogy, stars as 17-year old Jones Dillon. Having
arrived at college with a suitcase full of unsent letters to a father he never
knew, Jones somberly plans to begin his 4 years in purgatory (aka college). But
before that can happen, Jones gets harassed out of his dorm and ends up renting
space at a quaint house. Here, he's surrounded by colorful neighbors, including
the gun-toting gay painter Brad (Aaron Pearl), the slightly "off"
photographer Jane (Franka Potente), and the self-absorbed aspiring actress Lisa
(Mandy Moore). Using money courtesy of his wealthy but unstable single mother
(Elizabeth Perkins), Jones makes due while waiting for the college semester to
The guilty pleasure of "Try Seventeen" is
watching teen Mandy Moore -- who was, I believe, 18 at the film's shooting --
acting older than Elijah Woods, who had at least 3 years on her. Woods'
character is a virgin and inexperienced with women, while singer/actress Moore
has carefully crafted her image to be one of virginal girl next door. So it's
pretty entertaining to watch Moore's Lisa seducing Jones, and at one point
coming dangerously close to taking his virginity. Moore ("A
Walk To Remember") does an okay job as the narcissistic and prissy
Lisa, even if it's painfully obvious she's anything but those things.
The film's star is Wood, with German import Franka Potente
Identity") as his much older love interest. And since "Try
Seventeen" plays it safe for the most part, I think you can guess how their
relationship will get resolved. The words "nice and tidy" are indeed
very appropriate. Then again, the ending won't be a surprise because the
screenplay by Charles Kephart is every bit a "Hollywood script". This
means that the movie rarely takes risk, and even when it shows signs of being
different, it realizes what it is and manages to pull back in order to tow the
"Try Seventeen" will work for a lot of people
because the story is very in tune with what happens to teens as they set off
into the world on that confusing and not-so-magical road between childhood and
adulthood. Of course most of us couldn't afford to rent an entire house and not
go near a job application, such is the case with Wood's Jones. And not all of us
had rich alcoholic moms to pay our way. Still, there was enough about "Try
Seventeen" that we could relate to, hence it will play well with recent
college survivors -- er, graduates. Of course everything is exaggerated, but
there're enough familiarity here that the film is effective most of the time.
If you could get over the slightly odd dynamics of the
film, with 17-year old Jones in love with late-20-something Jane while being
pursued by 20-something Lisa, then "Try Seventeen" has enough good
spots to carry it through to the end. The movie runs only 90 minutes, which
means it never stays longer than it should. Director Jeffrey Porter is obviously
working with a big budget, which makes sense considering the cast he's managed
to assemble. Fact is, Porter probably had more money than he needed, or knew
what to do with.
"Try Seventeen" won't blow anyone's socks away.
The script is too pat, and there are not enough hard moments to convince us that
the movie is anything other than a manufactured product courtesy of Hollywood.
Still, there are enough good moments sprinkled throughout to make the whole
thing a nice treat, even if it won't change anyone's view of the world. Oh sure,
the film tries very hard to prove its mettle, but in the end it just couldn't
bring itself to -- as the Doors would say -- break on through.