Summer is alive and thriving and that means it is time to break free and live your teenage dreams. Two recent examples, a film and series, are worth checking out especially if you are going through those tumultuous years!
Here are 2 recommendaitons:
The Summer I Turned Pretty
First up we have a new series on Amazon Prime where newcomer Lola Tung plays Isabel or Belly (reminded me of Baby in Dirty Dancing in a lot of ways). She evidently has had a magical year and gone from nerdy to pretty in that time. Now when she goes to her yearly summer home with a friend’s family full of hunky boys they all notice her in a new way. It literally is the Summer she turned pretty.
The hunky boys in question include her long-time crush Conrad (Christopher Briney), dreamy blue-eyed Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo) and kid who looks very similar Cam (David Iacono). All of these teens look like they are in college and behave like they are young adults but a show like this is escapism for teens, so I am fine with it. It’s nice when teens in shows behave in more authentic ways but there’s a place for aspirational characters in teen stories just like any other audience. Teens will love this sun-dripped romantic show.
The North Carolina beaches are gorgeous and the whole cast has a nice chemistry together that it works. If you are a fan of writer Jenny Han’s previous To All the Boys… series of movies you’ll enjoy this one. We are going to be covering it on Hallmarkies Podcast so make sure you are subscribed!
7 out of 10
In the world of movies we have an indie teen drama called Coast that is also worth checking out. This is set on the other side of the country on the California Central Coast and young Abby (Fátima Ptacek) hates living in the agriculture-based town of her Mother (Cristela Alonzo) and wants to stretch her wings. I much more relate to this feeling than the love woes of Pretty. I couldn’t wait to get out of my small town and experience the world when I was a teenager.
This need of hers is put to the test when she meets a boy named Dave (Kane Ritchotte) who is the lead singer for a punk band and he invites Abby to join his band. The relationship between Alonzo and Ptacek feels authentic without the theatrics you typically see in this kind of coming of age story. Even when Abby leaves her Mom is upset but she looks up at the sky and says a simple prayer her daughter will find her way back. Directors Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart do a good job keeping scenes like this grounded and honest in and it makes the movie feel easy to relate with even if you aren’t a teen or into punk music.
It does feel derivative at times but it has the heart and the authentic performances to keep it going and make it a worthwhile indie to check out. You can rent it now on all the streaming sites. Oscar winner Melissa Leo has a memorable turn as a ornery hospital patient Alonzo takes care of.
7.5 out of 10
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