Release Date: October 13th, 2006 (AMC Empire 25) by Whitewater Films.
The Cast: Gregory Smith, David Morse, David Moscow, Ashley Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Chad Faust, Logan Bartholomew.
Directed by Rick Rosenthal.
BASIC PREMISE: In 1978, Henry Nearing (Smith) comes-of-age when he must choose between Grace (Brewster), a sexy yet dull girl, and his much livelier friend, Merna (Johnson).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although very predictable and formulaic, Nearing Grace has enough charm and liveliness to be mildly engaging. Henry comes from a dysfunctional family: his mother recently died and his alcoholic father (Morse) takes care of him while getting advice from his equally hippie older brother (Moscow). When Grace seduces him into a physical relationship which includes activities such as skinny dipping, camping out, and, of course, having sex, Henry gets himself into a serious conflict: Grace’s brawny boyfriend, Lance (Faust), gets jealous and revengeful quickly while Henry gradually distances himself from his friend, Merna, who found her own boyfriend, Tripp (Bartholomew). Coincidentally, their high school prom is coming up, so, who will be Henry’s date to the prom? The answer to that question is too easily telegraphed, as well as the answer the question of how he will get back his lively friend Merna. Director Rich Rosenthal, who previously directed Halloween Resurrection, includes picturesque cinematography and a fantastic soundtrack that highlights the music from the 70’s. The screenplay by Jacob Aaron Estes has many contrived and corny scenes, particularly in the over-the-top third act which will make you roll your eyes. Fortunately, the charming performances by Gregory Smith and Ashley Johnson, save this film from becoming too dull.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The somewhat insightful yet oversimplified messages are that it’s important to following your heart, to distinguish between true love and sex, and not to yield so easily to temptation.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Corny, contrived and clichéd.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining, but often corny, clichéd and contrived.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
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