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At The Movies With Josh: I Saw the TV Glow

Film studio A24 has been giving us some really interesting films for a few years now. They’ve also given us some rather weird pictures that aren’t for everybody. This movie isn’t for anyone. Well, maybe for transgender folks that grew up liking Barney on Nickelodeon. Supposedly the two main characters in it are transgender (although you might not have known that, even after you finish the film).

Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun (We’re All Going to the World’s Fair) is non-binary (formerly Dan Schoenbrun). And wanting to tackle a picture dealing with the trans community is fine. I remember 20 years ago, enjoying Transamerica (which got Felicity Huffman an Oscar nomination). That movie wouldn’t be made today because – well, Huffman had that whole college scandal involving her kid, and everyone would go nuts that she’s not a trans actor in real life. Heaven forbid actors just act. Anywho…

This movie takes place in the 1990s. We meet a shy boy named Owen (Ian Foreman plays him wonderfully as a 7th grader, Justice Smith plays the later version, with the most annoying voice you’ll hear from a character all year). He meets a goth girl named Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine), who is a few years older, and turns him on to a YA show called “The Pink Opaque.” 

Both kids are beaten by their fathers (Owen’s father is played by Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst). We initially just think Maddy is a loner, but one of her friends ends the friendship claiming she made a pass at her. When she asks Owen if he likes girls or boys he responds, “I like TV shows.”

It’s a great line. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t many in this movie, and it’s hard to really figure out what’s going on. We think that the show is going to have some sort of supernatural element (especially if you saw the trailers). 

Watching scenes from the poorly done TV show they kids love, we keep waiting for something to happen. Instead, I just thought of how brilliant the comedy “Brigsby Bear” (Greg Kinnear, Mark Hamill) was. But I digress.

To say this movie is unconventional storytelling, would be an understatement. And I’m fine if a film does things a bit differently, but this was utterly ridiculous. We just need more to this story, if we’re supposed to feel for a young man dealing with alienation and a bad home life.

Speaking of which, his mother is played by Danielle Deadwyler (Till) who isn’t given much to do (and she dies early on).

We get too much exposition; too much staring at Owen’s dopey face, looking slack-jawed at the world around him. The narration is annoying. Trying to figure out what the trans allegory is…is a fruitless endeavor. 

About the only thing that worked for me, were the music elements. A nice score by Alex G, and two cool bands – Sloppy Jane and King Woman. Although watching them perform their interesting songs in a club, doesn’t quite fit the context of what’s going on.

This movie is like if you took David Lynch and Cronenberg, combined him with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Teletubbies, and said – now, make all of that a lethargic borefest.

That’s what you have here. And of course, Emma Stone’s company is involved in production. She really needs to get away from Yorgos.

0 stars, and it’s one of the worst films of the year.

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