Magazine article Variety

The We and the I

Magazine article Variety

The We and the I

Article excerpt

FILM CANNES

The We and the I

France-US.

More admirable in theory than in practice, "The We and the I" finds pop-surrealist auteur Michel Gondry getting real with non-pro teen thesps, cast as chatty Bronx kids coming home from school on what seems to be the slowest city bus on earth. That the ride runs feature-length is the sole supernatural element of a pic pegged, pré-Cannes, to include sci-fi - an act of wishful thinking, evidently. Believably boring and adolescent, but to a fault, the movie sputters until its final third, when, "Breakfast Club"-style, the kids turn serious. Die-hard Gondryites may help the uncommercial indie recoup its bus-fare budget.

Reading as Gondry's back-tobasics response to the failure of "The Green Hornet," The We and the G could've been Iensed by the amateur auteurs of his "Be Kind Rewind." Indeed, an early and ominously unfunny joke has a racist old woman (Helen DeSanto) using a twig to "whip" Big T (Jonathan Worrell), who had tried to push her off the bus with his dirty talk. Cellshot video clips and a handful of teen-fantasy digressions are nearly the only scenes that take place off the bus, driven by a woman (Mia Lobo), but largely commandeered by three bullying boys in the back.

Living to terrorize other kids with their random cruelty, Michael (Michael Brodie), Raymond (Raymond Delgado), and Jonathan (Jonathan Ortiz) spill pudding on Cooper Union-bound Teresa (Teresa Lynn), ruin a sketch by the so-called Mangaboy (Manuel Rivera), and stomp on a schoolmate's guitar. Crudely split into thirds, the film opens with "Part One: The Bullies," which also features lessthan-compelling vignettes with shy Niomi (Meghan "Niomi" Murphy) and party-planning Laidychen (Laidychen Carrasco); bickering lovers Luis (Luis Figueroa) and Brandon (Brandon Diaz); and an earnest boy (Kendrick Martinez) who tries to get a date to see a Vin Diesel movie with him.

Scarcely an improvement, "Part Two: The Chaos" includes tears, some would-be jokes about a Waterbra, an unscheduled stop at a pizzeria and a cameo appearance by a long-haired boy whose evident spirituality helps to settle a dispute in the back of the bus (and to earn him the nickname "Jesuskon"). In a way, albeit a perverse one, the film begins to seem more realistic in its midsection for the fact that there are no genuine laughs in it, even though the teenage characters giggle often and seem to believe they're being funny. …

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