Now Is the Time When We Run Into the Woods

Patient: Lost and Delirious

Profile: Good coming of age/loss of innocence/doomed girl love flick that could have been great had it avoided stock characters (wounded daughters), stock metaphors (wounded birds), and redundant, gratuitous scenes of stock characters running into the woods to be reunited with stock metaphors. On the other hand, PILLOW FIGHTS!!!!! Think The Children's Hour meets Dead Poet's Society meets Debbie Does Debbie. Symptoms: The first 15 minutes of this movie play about as subtle as a Mentos commercial. You've got the newly arrived innocent (wide-eyed), the bad girl (smoking), the brainy girl (glasses); by the time the classical flute-playing students were drowned out by the rock music I really wanted a mint. It goes on like this for about 45 minutes and then, suddenly, finds its stride and for the next 30 minutes does a terrific job of communicating the profound pain and humiliation that is unrequited teen love. But then they run that into the ground too. The aggrieved party ends up making one grand gesture after another—after which she runs into the woods. When the inevitable happens—or don't you know what happens in movies to girls what like hugging other girls?—you're three exits past caring. And, not to give anything away, but if you jump off the roof of a tall building, you're going to get hurt. Trust me. I'm a doctor.

Diagnosis: On the other hand, PILLOW FIGHTS!!!!!

Prescription: First, get rid of the soundtrack. The present Lilith-Fair-plays-Dawson's-Creek crap draws attention for all the wrong reasons. Someone actually sings: You are a china shop, I am a bull/You are really good food and I am full.” I mean, is that what Janis Ian died for? Next, don't be so concerned with assigning soda-pop designations to your characters. It's enough for us to identify with their plight. We've all been there. Ease into your characters. You've got the perfect backdrop—a secluded all-girls school—to do that. Let us feel their pain, don't assault us with it. This movie could be about 15 minutes shorter with at least two or three fewer scenes of humiliation followed by—all together now—girls running into the woods. And this business of having the characters talk Shakespeare to one another; I don't know about you, but if you did that where I went to school, you wouldn't have jumped off that roof, you'd have been pushed.

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