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Dare (DVD Review)

10 Jan, 2010 By: John Latchem


Prebook 1/12/10; Street 2/9/10
Box Office $0.02 million
$27.98 DVD, $35.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for sexual content, language and alcohol use — all involving teens.
Stars Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, Ashley Springer, Alan Cumming, Rooney Mara, Ana Gasteyer, Sandra Bernhard.

Dramas about teen angst are a dime a dozen. Growing up is hard, others don’t understand, etc. Dare covers the basics while trying to shake up the formula with a three-act structure that relates how ambition, jealousy, sexuality and loneliness affect three teenagers whose storylines are carefully intertwined.

These are all themes common in coming-of-age tales, but the clichés are masked by strong performances and a plot gimmick that presents the story in turns from the point of view of each of the three main characters.

First up is Alexa (Emmy Rossum), the good girl who turns to sexual experimentation to further her acting career. This arouses jealousy in her best friend, Ben, who decides to explore his own feelings toward her bad-boy leading man, Johnny. In turn, Johnny is a walking case study in abandonment issues.

If there’s a weakness to the underlying story, it’s that the plot elements seem too mature and out of place for high-schoolers. If the characters are facing an identity crisis, it’s because the script is pushing them into a corner to manipulate the outcomes. The fact that the story resorts to a character literally expressing angst to a therapist is a bit of a cop-out, leading to a finale that is way too reminiscent of Threesome.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, Rossum’s audition video, commentary from director Adam Salky and writer David Brind, and the short film upon which the movie is based.

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