Graduation

Graduation

2008, NR, 89 min. Directed by Michael Mayer. Starring Shannon Lucio, Riley Smith, Chris Marquette, Chris Lowell, Adam Arkin, Aimee Garcia, Glynnis O'Connor, Huey Lewis.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 2, 2008

This high school bank-heist caper opens with a voiceover monologue that's typical of the meaningless blather that's yet to come. One of the speech's hollow lines resonates: "By senior year in high school, you either know what you want to do in life, or you don’t." That sounds good but sums up little, and instead of using the line to prompt some kind of soul search – à la Richard Dreyfuss in American Graffiti – it kicks off a musing-free plot about four seniors who rob a bank during the cover of their graduation ceremony in order to get the money to pay for a life-prolonging bone-marrow transplant for one student's mom. Bad deed, good cause: If that's the film's moral, then the film's ultimate finale completely contradicts that message. The script by D. Cory Turner is muddy at best, and some of the choices made by first-time feature director Mayer further cloud the scenario. Often the viewer is left grasping for a nonexistent conduit or line of explanatory dialogue that might help smooth over some unnecessarily rough transitions. Then, once the heist occurs, there are numerous overlooked and unquestioned details that suffuse the entire movie with the patent air of improbability. The film stars a quartet of young TV thesps: Lucio (The OC), Marquette (Joan of Arcadia, Alpha Dog), Lowell (Veronica Mars, Private Practice), and Smith (Freaks and Geeks). All perform quite well, although they're all a bit worn to be playing high schoolers. Arkin also gets a fair amount of screen time as both the bank president and one student's dad; however, anyone coming in order to see Lewis onscreen should be advised that he appears in only one short scene. Graduation is another in Landmark Dobie Theatre's recent trend toward presenting theatrical runs of small indie films due for DVD release in the week after leaving the theatre. (See The First Saturday in May, Zombie Strippers, and Backseat for recent examples.) Graduation opens this Friday exclusively in Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Minneapolis; it's set for DVD release on May 13.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Michael Mayer Films
The Seagull
Chekhov's tale of Muscovite misery takes unsteady flight.

Steve Davis, June 1, 2018

Flicka
Girls and their horses. They're grist for this new update of Mary O'Hara's beloved novel My Friend Flicka.

Toddy Burton, Oct. 27, 2006

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Everybody Knows
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem charm in this slight tale of lost loves and kidnapping

Feb. 22, 2019

Never Look Away
Art history drama set across and after the Third Reich has few lessons to teach

Feb. 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Graduation, Michael Mayer, Shannon Lucio, Riley Smith, Chris Marquette, Chris Lowell, Adam Arkin, Aimee Garcia, Glynnis O'Connor, Huey Lewis

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle