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'Remember the Daze'

Special to The Times

If you swiped the most insipid dialogue of the teenage-angst movies of John Hughes and Kevin Smith and Amy Heckerling, you would still have a script -- and a movie -- far superior to the newest of the genre, "Remember the Daze."

The feature film debut of 25-year-old writer-director Jess Manafort, "Daze" chronicles the night after the last day of school in 1999 in a suburban town. You may see yourself, or your former self, in this movie. If you do, throw yourself under a car on your way out of the theater.

The kids whose souls the film is supposed to probe during an afternoon and night of partying are stick figures -- mostly attractive people with IQs under 100 making observations sounding something like this:

"I'm gonna be famous some day. . . ." ". . . . Some day I just want to tell Mom I'm not a virgin. . . ." ". . . . I have no clue what I should do with myself. . . ." ". . . . Beer: It's the best drink in the world."

Beyond the fact that they like to get high, and in one case are in a lesbian relationship, the characters don't do or say anything to distinguish themselves from the most base human nature. One hundred and one minutes of drivel is broken perhaps four times.

Here's one:

"You better finish that drink. There are children sober in India."

A drugged-up first-time baby-sitter provides a couple of moments of pseudo-comedy. But Manafort's characters are too self-absorbed and stunted from mind-altering substances to do anything but whine. Few of them seem to care about each other, and it's easy to say that is a legitimate characterization of teenagers. It's perfectly realistic for a girl to proclaim, "I don't feel the need to talk unless I have something meaningful to say." The same should hold true for a scriptwriter who has so little meaningful to say.

"Remember the Daze," MPAA rating: R for pervasive drug and alcohol use, strong language and some sexual content involving teens. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848 4500; Laemmle's Monica 4, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, (310) 394 9741.

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