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Girls Town

video review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Girls Town

Starring: Bruklin Harris, Anna Grace
Director: Jim McKay
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: August 1996
Genre: Drama


*Also starring: Lili Taylor, Aunjanue Ellis, Guillermo Diaz, Michael Imperioli, Asia Minor, Ramya Pratt, Ernestine Jackson, Stephanie Berry, Nathaniel Freeman



Review by Steve Rhodes
½ star out of 4

GIRLS TOWN is the first narrative film by music video and documentary maker Jim McKay. It is his attempt to make a female DINER fused with BOYZ N THE HOOD. The press kit proudly proclaims that it won one of the many awards at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival.

GIRLS TOWN is also McKay's shot to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. By my estimate, approximately ninety-eight percent of the sentences include the F word, and on several he was able to make it be every other word in the sentence. Certainly a record albeit perhaps not an enviable one. Take out the F words and the parsimonious script just about vanishes.

Angela (Bruklin Harris), Emma (Anna Grace), and Patti (Lili Taylor) are three close friends who are about to graduate from an inner city high school. Angela and Emma will be going to college, and Patti will stay home and raise her toddler. Emma is so bright she will be going to Columbia, but I did not catch where Angela is going.

One of their friends commits suicide, but it happens so suddenly that any effect on the audience is muted. Most of the time the girls just hang out together and make small talk, small filthy talk that is. It seems they despise just about everyone in their lives except each other. They carry markers, spray paint, and screwdrivers with them so they can vandalize places wherever they go. In the film they destroy a car and steal from an apartment, but the script attempts to justify their actions.

The girls are fond of cavorting in the school bathroom where they write graffiti on the walls while they talk. If they are typical college material, then no wonder the SAT scores keep dropping in our country.

In one of the few good and poignant scenes in the show, Emma talks about her experience with date rape. Patti puts her down with a comment about that being typical so what is she complaining about.

The credits describe the film as "a collaborative process." The script is credited to the actresses and the director. It sounds like there was no written script, and they ad-libbed most of the lines. Too bad it didn't have some directing. The actresses demonstrate little energy and almost no talent. This is not to say they do not have talent, but that there is little in evidence in this film. The film wanders around aimlessly like a ship without a rudder or a captain.

Parents and boyfriends hardly appear at all in the show and when they do, it is clear that they don't get it. The girls are extremely hostile to them. When Angela gets expelled, her mom (Stephanie Berry) tells her, "This is your life Angela." Angela sarcastically retorts, "Exactly. My life."

When Emma's boyfriend tries to talk to her and reason with her, she puts him down with, "It's not what you say, it's what you think." Kind of hard to win against that Orwellian logic.

Angela is also a poet. One of her poems ends with, "What you see is what you get. It ain't cheap. It ain't free, but it's undeniably me." As the ending credits roll, she says, "I'd just like to get out of here." My sentiments exactly.

One final comment on the use of the F word in films. I asked one of the other critics at the screening about the plethora of F words in it, and he said it did not bother him since that is how teenagers in New York City talk. True perhaps, but not enough justification for me. I love PULP FICTION and gave it my highest rating. Other films like GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS I also praised highly. Both of these pictures are full of the use of the F word, but in them the script was strong and the F words were appropriate in the context. Here, there is nothing but cussing. Take it away, and you have almost nothing left.

GIRLS TOWN runs 1:30. It is rated R. There is incessant foul language including a surfeit of F words. There is some drug use, a lot of vandalism, but no sex or nudity. I think it gives a horrible message to our teenagers so I hope as few as possible of them will ever see it. I hated the film, and I give it 1/2 of a star only because I have seen worse.

Copyright İ 1996 Steve Rhodes

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