Palo Alto (DVD Review)19 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Prebook 1/20/09; Street 2/17/09
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, drug and alcohol use — all involving teens.
Stars Aaron Ashmore, Johnny Lewis, Justin Mentell, Autumn Reeser, Ben Savage, Tom Arnold.
Ben Savage (younger brother of Fred Savage of “The Wonder Years”), rose to fame from 1993 to 2000 playing teen Cory Matthews in 158 episodes of “Boy Meets World,” still in syndication on the Disney Channel.
While at times corny, “Boy” showcased Savage genuinely evolving in character and real life.
As Patrick, a goal-oriented college freshman palling around with former Palo Alto, Calif., high-school buddies on the last night of Thanksgiving break, Savage appears stuck in a bad outtake.
After breaking into the auto shop class for kicks, Patrick and his buddies split up in search of parties, co-eds and little else.
Cliché scenes of Patrick (after being dumped by his girlfriend) and his precocious brother (Connor Ross) getting drunk and hooking up with buxom pair Jessica (Hailey Bright) and Ashley (Christina DeRosa), are as “Savage” as it gets.
Other storylines fall flat. Director Brad Leong can be partially excused since he reportedly was just 20 years old when making Palo Alto. What Leong lacks in a cogent story, he does overcome with a superb soundtrack and good camerawork.
Take girl-shy Nolan (Johnny Lewis) who runs into Morgan (Tom Arnold), an offbeat middle-
aged school-bus driver who trolls around in the middle of the night dispensing staccato relationship advice to wayward teens.
When Nolan and quirky Jaime (Autumn Reeser) bond while toilet-papering a house, a poignant coming-of-age film appears briefly.
Maybe if Morgan had crashed the parties pretending to be a sophomoric teen, Palo Alto might have approached the zany highs (or lows) achieved in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express.