BEWARE THE GONZO (2010)
Running Time: 94 mins. Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Bryan Goluboff
Distributor: Tribeca Film
Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Jesse McCartney, Campbell Scott, Amy Sedaris, Judah Friedlander, Marc John Jeffries, James Urbaniak, Noah Fleiss, Dustin Ybarra
High school angst movies have long been in fashion and while few have reached the cinematic heights of say, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH or THE BREAKFAST CLUB, as a whole they are guilty pleasures to which most of us can easily relate. You can add BEWARE THE GONZO to that list of smart secondary school flicks.
Eddie “Gonzo” Gilman (Ezra Miller) is a student at the fictional Parker Prep in a leafy section of Brooklyn. His dream is to be editor of his high school paper and eventually go onto Columbia University’s School of Journalism and be the Hunter Thompson, of Rolling Stone fame, for his generation.
Unfortunately for Eddie he is beaten out for the top spot at his paper by his nemesis, Parker Prep’s golden boy, Gavin Reilly (Jesse McCartney). Gavin is not only the editor of the paper but is also the captain of the wrestling team and very popular with the ladies. Despite his good looks, and from outward appearances, has been dealt a very good hand in life, he is a bully and enjoys leading a gang that oppresses the dorks and nerds in Lord of the Flies fashion.
Eddie sees himself as an investigative muckraker but when Gavin refuses to run his stories and proceeds to mock him, he decides to start an underground newspaper at his school that he calls “The Gonzo.” He gets help from his small circle of friends but is shocked when he gets assistance from an unexpected source, a beautiful classmate, Evie Wallace (Zoe Kravitz), who happens to be a web design wiz. It turns out that she has her own score to settle with Gavin.
“The Gonzo” quickly becomes a must read as the paper unveils the imperfections of Parker’s “in crowd.” On a more serious note, Eddie attracts the attention of big-time news outlets when he breaks a story about the filthy conditions in the cafeteria. Naturally his principal, Mr. Roy (James Urbaniak), is not exactly ecstatic over having the next Bob Woodward under his nose and threatens to suspend him.
BEWARE THE GONZO works because of a clever script and a terrific cast. Yes, there are the usual array of jocks and nerds that would make an old viewer of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ proud. The actors though transcend the stereotypical roles. Ezra Miller puts a credible, energetic New York spin on what would have been an ideal role for John Cusack twenty years ago. Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of rocker Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, has the entertainment industry bloodlines and is certain to be a big star in the not too distant future. Jesse McCartney shows that Justin Timberlake is not the only musical teen idol that can seamlessly have a film career. Throw in fine supporting work from Judah Friedlander as a disgruntled cafeteria worker and Campbell Scott as Eddie’s well-meaning dad who seems to be reliving the 1960s through him, as well as an insightful script, and you have the makings for what could be the sleeper film of 2011.
BEWARE THE GONZO is one of the first films to be financed and distributed by Tribeca Enterprises and good old American Express, the tandem that puts on the annual Tribeca Film Festival every April. The film industry can use a player that can make indie films that have the potential to attract wider than expected audiences.
If you like this recommendations: Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, Igby Goes Down