Charlie Times Two (Movie Thoughts: Spontaneous/Words on Bathroom Walls)

Charlie Plummer was fantastic in ‘Lean on Pete’ and ‘All The Money In The World’ and ever since then, I made a mental note to follow his work. As it turns out, I saw two films back to back with him in the lead, and I am just impressed, even if the quality of the material doesn’t match his skills.

Brian Duffield’s ‘Spontaneous’ has been garnering great reviews for its timeliness. Shot before the pandemic, its story has parallels to what we are experiencing right now. In a suburban high school, teenagers start exploding -for no apparent reason. It’s a dark comedy that shows how teens deal from losing friends and classmates one by one, as government agencies try to figure out why this is happening. I can appreciate dark humor, but I honestly felt queasy watching this, and exploding people were just a little too much for me to handle. There is a love story in the heart of the film between a young couple, played by Katherine Langford and Plummer, but it felt wanting to me. I think the film, stylistically just isn’t for me, and I do understand why people are connecting with it.

I liked Thor Freudenthal’s ‘Words on Bathroom Walls’ more, also starring Plummer as a young man suffering from schizophrenia. The film is an adaptation of a YA book by Julia Walton. Plummer’s character, Adam, gets thrown out of his school and gets accepted at a Catholic high school where he meets Maya played by Taylor Russell. Those initial scenes between the two of them are fun, and you zip through the first part of the film with a smile.  When we see Adam’s condition worsen, the film loses its bearing for me, and the ending is a bit cringe-worthy, to be honest. But the performances, especially by Plummer and Russell, carry the day, and for that I prefer this over the earlier film. 

The Great Perhaps (Television Thoughts: Pilot, Looking for Alaska, Hulu)

de237b2b-f39a-437a-ab5c-610c50298c20I didn’t realize until I already started watching Hulu’s ‘Looking for Alaska’ that it stars Charlie Plummer. Plummer was excellent in last year’s ‘Lean On Pete’ and I have had my eye on him ever since. So it was great pleasure to see him land in this series. And based on the first episode which I watched, he is just one of the assets of the show.

Created by Josh Schwartz and Jessica Savage (they did ‘O.C’) this looks like it’s not just another teen drama. Plummer stars as Miles, a teen who asks to go away to boarding school to look for the ‘great perhaps.’ The term is coined from poet Francois Rabelais’ last words – Miles is a collector of them – he voraciously reads biographies to learn the last words famous people say before they die. (Rabelais’ was ‘I go to see a great perhaps’) Once he arrives at his school, he connects with his roommate Colonel and Alaska, a young girl he instantly falls for. So goodie, we get a coming of age story with unrequited love – my favorite genre of young people’s stories. By the end of the first episode, we see him trying to be Switzerland in class war, at the same time starting to nurse his newfound feelings. It’s going to be a bumpy but (I suspect) meaningful ride.