*** (out of four)
Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is like a lot of 15-year-olds: He tries to be smarter than he is while acknowledging he knows little, and he tries to do the right thing while admitting he can't let principles stand in the way of progress. His current issues: Trying to win and keep the heart (and sexual advances) of Jordana (Yasmin Paige), and preventing his mom (Sally Hawkins) from drifting away from her husband (Noah Taylor) and into the arms of her ex-lover, a ridiculous "mystic" named Graham (Paddy Considine).
The buzz: No one will accuse "Submarine" of breaking new ground. Writer-director Richard Ayoade practically plants a big kiss on the mouth of films such as "The 400 Blows," "Rushmore," "Harold and Maude," "The Squid and the Whale" and even "Rocket Science." Bonus: Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys wrote the songs for "Submarine."
The verdict: Hold off on that lawsuit, Wes Anderson. Any addition to the very tall pile of coming-of-age stories is worthy when it boasts darkly witty writing so zeroed in on a 15-year-old's irrational view of the world. The little lines and details are everything in "Submarine." Priceless highlights: Mom asking Oliver if his black eye was self-inflicted; dad memorizing the hotline to report potholes; and Oliver's affinity for routine searches of his parents' bedroom. None of these crosses the too-quirky line. The movie's a giddy ode to cinema and the dizzying naivete of adolescence, when who you are might not be as important as developing a persona. Hindsight couldn't exist without those kinds of mistakes.
Did you know? Graham's got both a mullet and spiky hair on top of his head, which is a great way of twisting the phrase, "Business in the front, party in the back" to "Party on the top, after-party in the back, baby."
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