The 400-Word Review: Big Time Adolescence

Pete Davidson gives an impressive turn (even if it is right in his wheelhouse) in this thoughtful comedy.
Bigtime

PHOTO COURTESY NEON / HULU

The late teen years are the subject of constant fictional commentary — perhaps more so than any other phase of life. The momentous shift from childhood to (very young) adulthood is resonant, to say the least. Raw, demonstrative emotion is a hallmark of the age — the very type of behavior that disappears during play-it-cool adulthood.

“Big Time Adolescence,” a compelling comedy from freshman writer/director Jason Orley, probably doesn’t break new ground (with coming-of-age tales appearing on a nearly weekly basis, how could it?) but it does offer a fascinating study in contrast. How do the hallmarks of the late-teen years look when worn by a twentysomething who refuses to move on — and what happens when an actual high-schooler falls under the influence of an adult whose maturity has regressed?

Don’t worry: It’s also pretty funny.

Mo (Griffin Gluck) and Zeke (Pete Davidson) are an odd couple in age only. Both are sardonic, slightly awkward party animals; neither knows how to handle romantic entanglements. Both are more than content to squander endless hours in directionless, alcohol-fueled idleness. (At one point, Mo describes Zeke’s house as “the most chill place ever.”)

The difference: Zeke is 23, occasionally holding down an entry-level retail job and living in a house he may or may not have legally inherited from his late grandmother. Mo is a high-school junior; ages ago, his older sister dated Zeke, and the two maintained a somewhat unlikely friendship after the breakup.

Many characters in “Big Time Adolescence” refer to Zeke as Mo’s de facto older brother — including Mo himself and Mo’s frustrated father (Jon Cryer) — but that’s not precisely it. If anything, Mo is slightly more mature than Zeke. Mo is impressed with his deadbeat friend because he’s living an adolescent fantasy: sex, drugs and rock and roll, with no school and barely any adult responsibility.

Unsurprisingly, when Mo starts to see Zeke’s arrested development for what it is — most prominently through the eyes of Sophie (Oona Laurence), the object of Mo’s affections — the spell wears off. (A not-insubstantial brush with the law doesn’t help matters.)

“Big Time Adolescence” is thoughtful, genuine and immensely watchable. Ample humor balances the doses of reality; Davidson has been gifted an ideal role and brings a wealth of skill to it. If it’s possible for a well-established star to still have a breakthrough role, this is his.

My Rating: 8/10

“Big Time Adolescence” is now streaming on Hulu.

Categories: Sean Collier’s Popcorn for Dinner