Methinks we would have heard more about this film if it was a better story. James Franco’s collection of short stories never really gels as a feature film. It remains a disheveled mess, fragments of wasted youth without much to say. It hints that there is more beneath the surface but fails to deliver.
Many slice-of-life vignettes seem interesting taken individually, but they don’t add up to squat. That’s what sunk it. The Hollywood consensus may be correct this time; the film couldn’t find financing. Eventually it became a vanity project of Franco and Francis Ford Coppola’s other daughter, Gia.
Some projects just don’t work in certain contexts, as in the case of a feature film vs. a short story collection. Now it may be possible to bang it into something more movie-like, but that would mean directly rewriting the powerhouse personality, producer and co-star: Franco. Not going to happen.
The film is an interesting curiosity, from an anthropological perspective. The individual moments carry some weight. These teenage years are harsh on the psyche, as everyone knows. The characters, though, don’t really have anything noteworthy going on. They lack the depth of literary creations. They’re just not very interesting despite the acting out and bad behaviors.
Save your money and rent Cheap Thrills instead, for the exact opposite movie in nearly every regard.