Third Generation Coppola Underwhelms with ‘Palo Alto’
Palo Alto (2013)
Here it is at last, the most nepotastic movie ever made. Palo Alto is the first film by Gia Coppola, the granddaughter of Francis Coppola, the niece of Sofia Coppola and Talia Shire, and the cousin of Jason Schwartzman and Nicholas Cage. She has put together a children of All Star cast that includes Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Polly Draper’s son, and enough Madsens and Burstyns and Coppolas to fill a Sundance Festival. The stars of the movie are Emma “Daughter of Eric, niece of Julia” Roberts and Jack “Son of Val” Kilmer.
The movie opens with some ratty teens in car, quizzing each other with hypothetical questions like, “If you could travel back to olden times, what would you do?” This could have been interesting – think of the “Top 5” lists that the characters in High Fidelity (2000) were always doing – but neither teen has an interesting answer to the question, and they just end up calling each other buttheads or boogers or whatever insults kids these days come up with. Then the movie goes downhill.
One of the intersecting storylines concerns high school soccer girl Emma Roberts and her pervy coach James Franco. It’s just like Bend it Like Beckham (2002), but without the music and the soccer and the disapproving family. In other words, boring.
Another storyline concerns the school slut. Once again, this scenario has been done better in other movies – see for example Bully (2001) or any French movie about adolescent girls.
Ultimately it’s difficult to muster up much sympathy for any of these kids whose prime difficulty in life seems to be a serious case of affluenza. And despite the title, the movie seems to take place in Any Posh Suburb, USA – there is nothing specifically Palo Alto or even Northern California in any of the scenery.
Emma Roberts is always watchable, and Palo Alto gets a few points for a decent, non-scenery-chewing performance by James Franco, and a good cameo by Don Novello, but you are far better off re-watching a classic movie about high school than seeing this.
Top 5 High School/Teen Movies that are better than Palo Alto:
1. River’s Edge (1986)
2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
3. Dazed & Confused (1993)
4. Elephant (2003)
5. Bully (2001)