IN A NUTSHELL:
As their last summer before middle school comes to a close, four best friends face the uncertainties of growing up and embark on their biggest adventure yet. The movie was directed by James Ponsoldt, as well as written by him with help from Benjamin Percy.
I completely agree with the director when he said, “As the parent of three young children, I find myself constantly in this delicate gray space of both needing to protect my children and wanting them to live fearlessly.” He explained, “I wanted to make a film in which my daughter could see herself. And her friends. I hoped to dignify the emotional inner lives of young female characters, to explore their imaginations and fears and hopes while they’re on the cusp of adolescence.” He further shared that he likes to think of this movie as a platonic love story between four friends.
THINGS I LIKED:
It’s a coming-of-age movie mixed with some humor, gentle insights, and mystery.
The cast of women and girls includes Megan Mullally, Lake Bell, Lia Barnett, Sarah Cooper, Eden Grace Redfield, Sanai Victoria, Madalen Mills, and Ashley Madekwe.
There’s a moment when the girls walk past a painting of a tree. The leaves are made out of painted handprints, which slowly fall to the ground. It was intriguing and symbolic, so I wish there had been more whimsical moments like that in the film. I thought it perfectly illustrated that fuzzy line between childhood fantasy and stepping into the reality of adolescence.
The movie was filmed in Utah during Covid and a heat wave.
There’s definitely a feeling of nostalgia that moms will be able to relate to, and I appreciated that the mothers’ perspectives were subtly added to the story.
Some of the young actresses do an outstanding job. With the help of a two-time, Emmy-winning casting director, Avy Kaufman, they were able to cast girls who had an authentic quality about them.
Director Ponsoldt knew that he and his writing partner would have blind spots when it came to telling a story in which all
of the protagonists – and most of the supporting characters – are girls or women. He shared, “We both have strong,
amazing women of different ages in our lives, so we made a pact that at every stage we would bring on female
collaborators to scrutinize the story and tell us what we were missing, whether it was our producer or our
cinematographer or the actors themselves.”
There’s a lovely musical score and final song.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:
For a movie about young girls, there wasn’t very much screaming! The movie was written and directed by men. Have they been around squealy girls lately?
It’s super frustrating to watch the girls make terrible choices.
There are some bad acting moments.
Some viewers will get tired of waiting for something to “happen”.
There are some spooky moments that are never explained, other than they represent the girls’ fears. The crime, itself, is never resolved. Of course, it’s secondary to what it means to the girls, but it still would have been nice to have some closure.
The film vacillates between being a melancholy exploration of childhood as the girls end their summer together and a mysterious horror (PG-rated, of course). It felt honest and easy when the movie focused on the girls, yet somehow forced and contrived when it tried to introduce the ghost-like images.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
Girls spit off a bridge onto the cars below
Kids lie to their parents One of the girls gives another one advice by saying, “You already lied. Just lie again.”
Kids see and handle a dead man
Kids spend time in a bar.
The girls have a seance.
You can see the full review on the Movie Review Mom YouTube channel.