All I Want (2002) / Comedy-Romance
aka Try Seventeen
MPAA Rated: R for sexual situations and language
Running Time: 96 min.
Cast: Elijah Wood, Franka Potente, Mandy Moore, Aaron Pearl, Chris Martin, Elizabeth Perkins, Deborah Harry
Director: Jeffrey Porter
Screenplay: Charles Kephart
Review published September 16, 2002
With some teen comedy/dramas, I feel like I'm watching an extended episode of some television show, with all of the kooky characters, love triangles, and typical angst you'd expect to find there. All I Want (aka Try Seventeen in its film festival release) certainly fits that mold to a tee. We are introduced to a lead male character with a mysterious past, then he gets hit on by all of the attractive females in the cast, leaving you to wonder who will end up with each other and why everyone acts so strangely toward one another. Perhaps if I watched these events play out throughout the course of a season, I might find many of the bizarre situations and oddball characters in this movie to be much easier to relate to, as we would normally spend more time with them and see them as three-dimensional people, provided there is good writing to sustain it. Crammed into a 90+ minute movie, the characters remain shallow throughout, making this an eccentric diversion that only entertains with how many quirky moments they are willing to indulge in before getting to the heart of the matter.
I'll attempt to write the plot, but just know makes absolutely no sense to me, so forgive me if I am in error. Jones (Wood, Ash Wednesday) is a 17-year-old who moves to a new town to go to a college he doesn't really want to go to, except his dead grandfather had put it in his will that he should, along with a nice sum of money. College life proves to be not for him, so he moves out of his dorm and leases an apartment where his neighbors consist of Lisa (Moore, A Walk to Rememeber), a sexy aspiring actress, Jane (Potente, The Bourne Identity), the German photographer, and Brad (Pearl, White Noise 2), the gay gun-toting cowboy. Initially, he is interested in Lisa, and she seems to be interested as well, but he later finds Jane intriguing, and the virginal teenager's feelings become confused in a love triangle filled with hurtful pasts that complicate the present.
It's ironic that a film that tries so hard to be quirky and energetic would be so lackadaisical when it comes to dealing with the main story. Most of the first hour is spent with Jones getting himself into precarious situations with his neighbors and others he meets, such as shooting beer cans with Brad, buying alcohol wherever he can, rehearsing a play with Lisa, learning how to uncork wine bottles, betting on horse races, having wildly perverse fantasies, or typing up letters to the father he has never met. It's an existential existence for the young lad, and doesn't quite make sense for someone to have essentially dropped out of life for no legitimate reason, as we never really feel like he would think college life would have no meaning when everything else he does, he attributes such exceptional significance to. College life is typically much more colorful and exciting than hanging out in one's pad all day, although you wouldn't know it from this film.
All I Want is occasionally amusing, and it succeeds in holding your interest, but it's just too shallow and tries too hard to be funny, even when the situation doesn't really call for it. There really isn't a moment in the film that smacks of reality, with all of the relationships and conversations so contrived that the film eventually runs out of steam during the final half hour in its attempts to be poignant. If you really like the main stars, perhaps you'll find this worth a look, but I suspect you'll find better options on the "idiot box" in a similar vein almost any night of the week.
©2002 Vince Leo