Man in the Chair

Finally, stripling movie nerds get their own art-house Karate Kid! A student filmmaking contest pits troubled, working-class teen Cameron Kincaid (Michael Angarano) against smug scion-of-Hollywood Brett Raven (Taber Schroeder). Cameron, however, has a secret weapon: He has wooed a crabbed, geriatric gaffer, Flash Madden (Christopher Plummer), onto his team. A leftover from the studio golden age, Flash spends his days killing pints of bourbon in suitably picturesque Los Angeles–area locales, coming and going at will from the motion-picture rest home. He brings an old screenwriting buddy (M. Emmet Walsh) on board and, as preproduction progresses, generation chasms are bridged and lessons summarily learned to the strains of some anodyne no-name indie rock. The script's transgressions don't stop at the character names. Writer-director Michael Schroeder compulsively references canonical films and books, presumably in the hope that genius rubs off; the teen argot and scenes of delinquency are flat-out BS (Angarano is palpably the least dangerous juvie ever); Flash drops standard-issue "cantankerous old salt" nuggets (e.g. "You can't polish a turd"); and American cinema's millionth Viagra joke is herein proudly recorded. Walsh and Plummer are obviously pros, and they hustle to put across some patently ridiculous business, but, well, it's true about the polishing thing.

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