2003-09-12 / Columnists

MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Thirteen , And, I’ll Do As I Please’

MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Thirteen , And, I’ll Do As I Please’

MovieScope By Robert Snyder
‘Thirteen , And, I’ll Do As I Please’


Three decades ago, rock star Alice Cooper released a song called, "Eighteen." In it, he screamed, "Eighteen and I’ll do as I please." Nowadays, the surge of teenage rebellion has moved back to the first year of adolescence, as exemplified by the film, "Thirteen." What it shows is far more horrifying than anything Mr. Cooper could conceive in his wild, warped imagination.


Because it’s real.

Co-written and starring actual 13-year-old Nikki Reed, "Thirteen" is in many ways more shocking than "The Magdalene Sisters." It charts the downfall and redemption of just-turned teenager Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), as she aspires to the highest heights of pubescent kid "coolality," under the mentorship of middle school hottie Evie (Reed). The scene is contemporary Los Angeles, but it
could be Any Mall, U.S.A. Initially, Tracy is a smart, slightly insecure,
sensitive girl living with struggling single mother Melanie (Holly Hunter), her younger, surfer, brother Mason (Brady Corbet) and mom’s deadbeat, but well-meaning boyfriend, Brady (Jeremy Sisto). Her real father is out of sight and almost
out of mind. Melanie and Brady are recovering drug/alcohol abusers.
After some early teasing by Evie and her in-crowd, Tracy gains instant acceptance after she steals a shopper’s purse. Armed with cash, the Evie and Tracy team go on a spending spree, which leads to a roller coaster of depravity, drugs, sex and piercings. Evie is the consummate con girl, playing off her hipness to Tracy, while gaining Melanie’s sympathy with stories of her life as a foster child. When Evie moves in with Tracy, good grades and attendance exit their lives.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, "Thirteen" is a descent into teenage Hell, which, though rated R, every adolescent should see…particularly, with a parent (as decidedly uncool as that is). The performances are riveting, with Wood’s character going deeper and deeper into the dark side. She seriously inflicts pain upon herself, via scissors, razor blades and slap fights with Evie.

One adult in the audience at the plush Roosevelt Raceway Theater in Westbury worried that teenagers may try to emulate the over-the-top antics of the wayward adolescents of "Thirteen." Movie or not, parents of such children should be prepared for problems. If "Thirteen’s" horrors don’t scare them straight, it’s time for therapy.

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