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"WHATEVER"
(1998) (Liza Weil, Chad Morgan) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme Mild Heavy Minor None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Minor None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Extreme Mild Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A high school senior tries to figure out what to do with her life while hanging out with her hard partying best friend.
PLOT:
Anna Stockard (LIZA WEIL) and Brenda Talbot (CHAD MORGAN) are best friends in high school during the early 1980's. While Anna is a promising painter and hopes to go to an art institute upon graduation, Brenda spends her time getting drunk and sleeping with nearly every guy she meets. Attending a party together, the girls see their friend Eddie (GARY WOLF) who's always wanting to get high, as well as Martin (MARK RIFFON), a frustrated and older painter who has the hots for Anna. They also meet Zak (DAN MONTANO) and Woods (JOHN G. CONNOLLY), two ex-cons whose seemingly wild life instantly draws Brenda to them.

While Anna desperately wants to live life with passion and is curious about losing her virginity -- something Brenda actively encourages -- she must also deal with her hard working, divorced mom, (KATHRYN ROSSETTER), and her high school art teacher and mentor, Mr. Chaminsky (FREDERIC FORREST), both of whom hope that Anna will break free from her Jersey slacker lifestyle.

Yet Anna's low self-esteem and overall confusion about her life causes her to drink heavily, do drugs, experiment with sex, and hang out with Brenda, Zak and Woods, none of which helps her condition. As she comes to the point in her life where she must decide what is best for her, Anna must deal with everyone around her while trying to set her life straight.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Since it's about teen angst and hard partying teens, some just might, but this low budget film with its no name cast may have a hard time getting many teens to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For pervasive teen drug and alcohol use, language including sexual dialogue, sexuality and some violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • Considering the heavy drinking and smoking, drug use, and casual sex among the leads, it's doubtful many parents would find any of them to be good role models.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    Smartly titled for the popular phrase often used by teenagers when have had enough parental or otherwise adult advice, warnings, or wisdom, "Whatever" is a compelling but gritty look at teens and their transition to adulthood in the early 1980's.

    Much more realistic and honest than the recently released and insipidly structured "Can't Hardly Wait," this low budget picture doesn't have any well-known, "name" performers to carry the show. Nor does it have the standard comedic material so often found in such genre entries. Instead, it focuses on the myriad of problems and challenges faced by teens in those often dark, turbulent, and definitely confusing times.

    Making her feature film debut, writer/director Susan Skoog has wisely chosen to tell the story from the perspective of a talented, but troubled teenage girl. Although a gifted and promising painter, the Anna character has a disillusioned bad attitude toward school and her single mom, and has a drinking problem and a load of low self-esteem. That, coupled with a best friend who's a "loose," party hound who encourages Anna to lose her virginity, efficiently sets up the dramatic complications for our protagonist.

    While all of that has been touched on in other teen angst films and various made for TV movies, Skoog manages to bring something fresh to the proceedings and manages to avoid allowing the film to become a run of the mill, melodramatic picture. While she hasn't tapped into, or wrapped the film with smart or witty "teen speak" (think of Alicia Silverstone in "Clueless"), she has written some honestly constructed characters.

    What also helps are the fine performances from the two leading ladies. Liza Weil, who makes her feature film debut performance as the lead, is outstanding in her role. Perfectly playing that awkward age where some people still treat you like a child (having to drink cola while out with her mother and her boyfriend), while at others you think, or at least think you're an adult (as shown by the teen notion of partying, drinking, and sleeping around), Weil delivers a completely believable and moving performance. While her character's not always likeable, the range of emotions she's able to express (including some great, disaffected and forlorn expressions) proves that she's a fine actress.

    Chad Morgan ("The War At Home") is also quite good and believable in her role as Anna's hard partying, sleep around best friend. Although often playing an inebriated character, Moran, like Weil, easily manages to adopt that disaffected aura so often found in angst ridden teens.

    From there, the rest of the cast and the performances range from good to a bit shaky. Skoog never fully explains why, but many of her adult characters come off more like caricatures then the real flesh and blood teens they're trying to help or reprimand. Perhaps we're seeing them through the eyes of the teens, since they become a bit more realistic toward the end of the movie, but there's no certainty to that observation. Nonetheless, while Kathryn Rossetter is sympathetically believable as Anna's single mom who will go out with anyone just to have a man around, Frederic Forrest's ("The Rose," "Apocalypse Now") laid back mentor character is questionably played at times, unnecessarily drawing attention to his performance.

    Although the melodramatic moments start to pile up at the end (especially when Skoog throws in some stepfather molestation material), and some bits of dialogue from minor characters don't always ring true, the film manages to survive mainly due to the fine young actresses in the lead roles. While nothing really new is touched on, nor are any "magic bullet" remedies for teen angst discovered, the film still manages to feel honestly fresh.

    Perhaps that's because Skoog doesn't sugarcoat the material and offers a gritty look at a tough period in any teenager's life. Compelling and occasionally disturbing to watch, "Whatever" is worth seeing mainly for what Weil and Morgan bring to their roles. We give the film a 6 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Drug and alcohol use is extreme as the lead characters as well as many others snort coke, smoke pot, and drink lots of alcohol. Profanity is also extreme with nearly 50 "f" words and an assortment of others as well as phrases. Likewise, sexual content is rated as extreme due to several encounters and related dialogue.

    Smoking is also extreme, with both main characters doing a lot of that, and bad attitudes are heavy, especially among the leads. Due to all of the above and more, we strongly suggest that you take a closer look at the content should you or anyone else in your home wish to see this film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Brenda takes a swig of liquor after having had sex with a guy.
  • We see Brenda take some pot along with her to a party where she tells others there that she has to roll it first.
  • Brenda's stepfather drinks and she walks over and takes a drink from the glass herself.
  • Anna pours her mother's wine into her own soft drink cup (to disguise it from her mother).
  • Many people drink a lot of beer and liquor at a party (including drinking contests), while others smoke joints and do bong hits.
  • Some people at a party briefly try to get a dog to drink some beer (it doesn't).
  • Brenda snorts cocaine given to her by Woods and Zak, and then drinks a lot of whiskey straight from the bottle. Zak also smokes a joint.
  • Zak tells Anna that he and Woods went to prison for "dealing" (drugs).
  • Zak snorts some cocaine, and then shows Anna how to, and she does.
  • Anna's mom drinks wine in several scenes, and also has a cocktail with her boyfriend.
  • Upset at her mom, Anna smokes pot in her room, and later drinks wine after losing her virginity.
  • Anna and Brenda have wine at a restaurant, and then go drinking in a bar with two guys they just met.
  • Anna finds Brenda drunk once again at a party where other people drink and smoke pot.
  • Brenda drinks liquor from a bottle while riding with Zak, Woods, and Anna. Arriving in a motel room, Woods rolls some joints while Anna drinks whiskey from a bottle and then smokes a joint (that's accidentally laced with acid or something similar since she has a bad, hallucinatory reaction to it), while Zak snorts cocaine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Anna throws up while having oral sex with a guy she just met.
  • Brenda shows up with a bloody nose and bruises on her face (from her stepfather hitting her -- not seen).
  • Although neither bloody nor gory, a bunch of guys at a party spit and hock into a cup that another guy then drinks for twenty dollars.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Anna has both toward nearly everyone. She doesn't get along with her mother (quietly telling her to "f*ck off" or "shut up...get out of my face..." and she steals money from her wallet) or her teachers (talking back to one who disciplined her for smoking at school, calling her English teacher a "d*ck").
  • Brenda also has some for her teachers, but also for herself by sleeping with every guy she runs into.
  • A male student at school tells Brenda, "How 'bout you suck my d*ck?" She then tells him "to whip it out" and walks away in disgust.
  • Zak tells Anna that he and Woods went to prison for "dealing" (drugs).
  • After Anna jokingly tells his mother's boyfriend that she's not going to college because she's going to become a nun, he asks why would a "pretty girl like you want to become a nun?" She then replies, "I want to marry Jesus Christ."
  • Brenda's stepfather evidently forces her to have sex (not seen, but heavily implied) and we see her in one scene after he's beaten her.
  • Brenda takes Zak and Woods back to her house to steal things from her stepfather.
  • After Brenda asks if she can keep a leather satchel he gave her, he replies, "What do you think I am, an Indian giver?"
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Brenda takes Zak and Woods back to her house to steal things from her stepfather. He discovers them doing this and pushes Anna aside and Brenda to the floor. She then comes back and hits him over the head, causing him to hit her several times. The guys then hit her stepfather, and she then repeatedly hits him with a fireplace poker (we don't see the impact).
  • We see a distorted camera angle and some weird music as Anna hallucinates after smoking some acid-laced pot.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck off," "F*ckin' A," "D*ckhead," "Pus" (short for "p*ssy"), "You suck," "Pissing me off," "Shut up," "Sucked" and "Blow job."
  • All of the drug and alcohol use by teens.
  • Brenda makes a gesture for male oral sex (moving her hand and a bulge in her cheek in unison) toward a teacher while Anna flicks her tongue suggesting female oral sex.
  • Anna pours her mother's wine into her own soft drink cup (to disguise it from her mother).
  • A guy at a party tells a story of another person putting "boogers" into his lip balm container and then having others use it (unaware of what they were putting on their lips).
  • Some people at a party briefly try to get a dog to drink some beer (it doesn't).
  • We see two guys urinating outside at a party (but don't really see anything).
  • Zak, Woods, and the ladies speed off in their car when the police arrive, and they then lead them on a brief car chase through the darkened woods.
  • Anna fakes being sick so that she can skip school and take a trip to New York City with Brenda.
  • A bunch of guys at a party spit and hock into a cup that another guy then drinks for twenty dollars.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A few scenes have just a bit of tense music in them.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 48 "f" words, 17 "s" words, 6 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" word), 1 partial slang term for female genitals ("pus," short for "p*ssy"), 7 asses (5 used with "hole"), 2 hells, 1 crap and 3 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh my God," 2 uses each of "Jesus," "Jesus Christ" and "God" and 1 use each of "Oh Jesus" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see a man on top of Brenda having sex with her. While we don't see any nudity, we do see movement (from his back and up) and hear sounds. When another guy immediately comes up and gives her a drink of liquor from the bottle, it's somewhat implied that she may have had sex with him (and with a third guy who later walks off with the first two). Afterwards, we do see her in her bra (with some cleavage).
  • Anna's mom shows some cleavage.
  • A male student at school tells Brenda, "How 'bout you suck my d*ck?" She then tells him "to whip it out" and walks away in disgust.
  • Brenda prods Anna to lose her virginity, but that doesn't happen until later in the story.
  • Brenda makes a gesture for male oral sex (moving her hand and a bulge in her cheek in unison) toward a teacher while Anna flicks her tongue suggesting female oral sex.
  • We briefly see Anna in her bra (with ample cleavage) as she tries on clothes.
  • Anna's brother bursts into her room and finds her in bed with Brenda (just sleeping, nothing sexual) and states that they're lesbians.
  • We see Brenda in her bra and underwear and see some cleavage.
  • Anna and Martin kiss on his bed. He undoes her shirt and takes it off along with her pants (we see her in her bra and underwear -- he also takes off his shirt and pants and we see him in his boxers). He then asks if she's ever "seen a man before" as he takes her hand and puts it on his privates (implied, because we only see them from the chest and up). She says that she has and recounts a brief tale about a guy she was making out with who pulled out his penis and had her touch it. Martin then asks what it felt like, and she replies like his. He then gets on top of her and they have sex (her first time). He notices her reacting in pain and asks if it hurts, but she lies and says that it feels good. While we don't see any nudity, we see movement and hear sexual sounds.
  • Afterwards, she can't ride her bike back home, and later tells Brenda that she finally "did it," and that "it felt good at first...until he stuck it in..." Brenda then says that yes, it does hurt, but "it helps if you're drunk."
  • Anna's younger brother tells her, "You've got penis breath."
  • We see a bare-breasted woman posing in an anatomy drawing class.
  • Brenda makes a joke/comment about how much money if would take for Anna to give a "blow job" to a grungy looking guy on the street. She adds in, "You don't have to swallow." They then comment what "a treat it would be for that guy to get a blow job from a seventeen-year-old girl."
  • Anna makes out with a guy she just met. He tries to put his hand between her legs but she stops him, saying that it's "that time of the month." He then comments that there are other things they can do (as he undoes his pants), and we then see her having oral sex with him (not graphically explicit, but pretty close with her head moving and we see his reaction). Before she's done she gags and throws up. Later, she tells Brenda that she guesses that she wasn't doing it right, and Brenda tells her that she has to relax her throat.
  • Meanwhile, Brenda has sex with a guy that she just met (no nudity, but movement and sounds).
  • Brenda's stepfather comes into her room and turns off the light (suggesting that they have sex -- against her will).
  • Anna wakes up nude on the beach after a night of hallucinating (no sex involved) and we see the sides of her bare breasts, and later her walking along in her bra.
  • SMOKING
  • Anna smokes throughout the movie (and much is made about her smoking menthol cigarettes). Brenda also smokes, while Anna's mom, Martin, Zak and others smoke as do many people at various parties and in other scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Anna's father is nowhere to be seen, and she often doesn't get along with her mother (in one scene quietly telling her to "f*ck off" and in another to "get out of my face"). At one moment, Anna's mother smacks her due to this attitude.
  • Brenda's stepfather evidently forces her to have sex (not seen, but heavily implied) and we see her in one scene after he's beaten her.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • All of the drug and alcohol use by teens.
  • Sleeping around with many guys (Brenda) or feeling pressured to lose one's virginity (Anna).
  • What to expect during those transitional years from being a kid to becoming a young adult.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Anna's mother smacks her after she tires of her daughter's surly attitude.
  • Brenda shows up with a bloody nose and bruises on her face (from her stepfather hitting her -- not seen).
  • Brenda takes Zak and Woods back to her house to steal things from her stepfather. He discovers them doing this and pushes Anna aside and Brenda to the floor. She then comes back and hits him over the head, causing him to hit her several times. The guys then hit her stepfather, and she then repeatedly hits him with a fireplace poker (we don't see the impact).
  • Thinking he took advantage of her (he says he didn't), Anna hits Zak several times.



  • Reviewed July 6, 1998

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