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DVD Review: Grown Up Movie Star

May 4, 2010

Grown Up Movie Star – A Mongrel Media Release

DVD Release Date: April 27th, 2010

Rated 18A for Coarse Language, Sexual Content, Disturbing Content

Running time: 95 minutes

Adriana Maggs (dir.)

Adriana Maggs (writer)

Elliot Brood (music)

Shawn Doyle as Ray

Tatiana Maslany as Ruby

Julia Kennedy as Rose

Jonny Harris as Stuart

Our reviews below:


Grown Up Movie Star DVD Review By John C.

*1/2 (out of 4)

Grown Up Movie Star may end up winning a lot of Genies come awards time, and boy am I glad that I saw it now so that I can share my thoughts.  This is the story of a messed up family in Newfoundland.  The mother, Lillian, runs off to Hollywood to become a movie star – leaving the father, Ray, with their two daughters.  The older one, Ruby, is as messed up as the father – no wait, more so, and I feel sorry for the younger one, Rose, because she is mixed up in all their problems.

The performances are fine, but they’re all just playing on one angry note.   Newcomer Tatiana Maslany only really shows one emotion, so I’m not yet sure of her overall talent level.  Since it premiered at Sundance this past January, she has been drawing praise and comparison to two of my favourite young actresses, Ellen Page and Carey Mulligan.  Page or Mulligan she is not.  Both those actresses created characters that I would actually want to know in real life – Maslany plays the type one would try to avoid.

I disliked it all the way through, and hated it even more once it reached a disturbingly-disgusting scene that could be shown in schools as a case for celibacy – make that never having sex.  It casts gay people and those in wheelchairs in a completely negative light, and none of the characters are relatable or likable.  Though in it’s favour, it is technically better shot than a film like Suzie, (another Canadian film I hated – though that one admittedly had a more intriguing premise), the acting here is better than that one too, and the scenery certainly nicer.

Grown Up Movie Star is dreary, depressing, disturbing, disgusting, completely contrived, and downright bad.  You know what?  I hated this movie.  The worst I have seen so far this year, and I’m sure it will remain near the bottom come the end of the year.  The only thing this film did for me?  It confirmed that my love for great Canadian films like One Week, Victoria Day, Adoration, and Defendor, was not just patriotic pride.

The DVD includes no bonus features, though I would have liked an explanation on why this is considered such a great Canadian film, and on why it warranted a government grant.

___________________________________________________________________________Grown Up Movie Star DVD Review By Erin V.

*1/2 (out of 4)

Grown Up Movie Star is about a girl, Ruby, who after her messed-up mother runs off to Hollywood from her, her sister Rose, and her messed-up father, becomes messed-up.  Or was she already?  Ruby is played (in what’s been called a ‘break-out’ performance) by Tatiana Maslany.  I’m not so sure.  All of the acting in this film was believable – as in the interactions and what they portrayed wasn’t inaccurate to the story, but it certainly wasn’t connecting at all.  Alright, but not great.  Apparently Tatiana Maslany played a part in the excellent Canadian film Defendor, although I can’t remember when in the film that was.  I do know one thing though, you might want to skip Grown Up Movie Star altogether and watch Defendor instead.

The question is, how does this film portray Canadian cinema – or those in Newfoundland and Labrador?  To me?  Not very well.  There is some Genie buzz around this film, and honestly, I don’t quite know why.  In some scenes I was so tired of the messed up characters, I was watching the clouds in the background, or other such landscape shots.  Why?  I didn’t find the characters likeable, nor the story interesting.  I was commentating to myself what was about to happen – just guesses, often right.  Too predictable?  For sure.  This is just a dreary film, at times disgusting, that really I say only to watch if curious what’s being talked about as a Canadian film right now…  It’s too bad though.  I’ve seen far better Canadian films with less attention given to them.


Grown Up Movie Star DVD Review By Nicole

*1/2 (out of 4)

Grown Up Movie Star is a dreary melodrama that makes use of every imaginable contrivance.  From a drunken ex-convict drug dealer father, who displays two out of the three behaviours used to diagnose antisocial personality disorder (cruelty to animals, setting fires), in the first ten minutes of the film, only for his older to later realise he is gay.  (Why is a gay character depicted as antisocial?)  Of course, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as his father (the grandfather) is a total mess.  Of course, the mother has left, to do drugs, have sex, and become a movie star, as to not have to put up with this craziness.  The father’s photographer friend is a creepy pedophile in a wheelchair, (why do the filmmakers depict a character in a wheelchair as creepy?), who molests and photographs the older daughter in skimpy clothes.

There is also a loss of virginity scene involving the teenage daughter and a teenage boy that is like a scene out of a slasher horror flick.  The only likable character in this movie is the 11 year old younger daughter.  One feels sorry for her, as she is part of this crazy family.  There is only marginal hope for this fractured family in the end.  The only nice thing about this movie is the scenery, which is set in a quant coastal town in Newfoundland near a boreal forest.  Aside from the setting, Grown Up Movie Star does nothing for Canadain film, let alone represent Canada.  Rent this one only if you are mildly curious as to what the fuss is about regarding this sorry film.


Grown Up Movie Star DVD Review By Maureen

*1/2 (out of 4)

There are so many good Canadian films in the couple of years, One Week, Victoria Day, Adoration, Defendor, to name a few.  Unfortunately, Grown Up Movie Star isn’t one of them.

Set in beautiful rural Newfoundland, the drearily depressing drama has every negative, contrived stereotype a writer could think of and get away with.  The father, Ray (Shawn Doyle) is a former hockey player with a prison record for drug dealing.  He also abuses alcohol, shows cruelty to animals, steals cars and sets fires, is a closeted homosexual single father, all while neglecting his increasingly confused and promiscuous teenage daughter Ruby (Tatiana Maslany) ans her younger sister, Rose (Julia Kennedy).  Then there’s Ray’s friend whom the girls call ‘Uncle Stuart,’ a creepy man in a wheelchair who likes to take pedophilic photographs of the sisters.  Ruby’s loss of virginity scene with her teenage boyfriend can only be described as disgusting.

The only saving grace of this film would be the believable and decent acting all around.  I would watch for young Julia Kennedy who plays Rose in future roles, hopefully better ones.

This movie only serves to perpetuate stereotypes about rural Newfoundland.  I can’t recommend it.

___________________________________________________________________________Grown Up Movie Star DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Grown Up Movie Star begins with a mother leaving her husband and two daughters in their Newfoundland village to pursue a U.S. acting career.  The girls Ruby, 14 (Tatiana Maslany) and Rose, 11 (Julia Kennedy), left with their irresponsible father Ray (Shawn Doyle), an ex-NHL player busted for pot smuggling, must struggle with his issues along with their own coming of age.

I admired this film more than I liked it. Writer/director Adriana Maggs has captured the beauty and wit of Newfoundland, and the cast, all born (except for Maslany) in Newfoundland and Labrador, put in strong performances.  The story is rather hard to take however, so watching it felt more like a patriotic obligation than a pleasure, somewhat like Precious.

___________________________________________________________________________Consensus: Grown Up Movie Star is a contrived, depressing, and stereotyped in the worst possible way, look at life in rural Newfoundland.  A relentlessly dreary exercise in Canadian melodrama, that is only mildly worth renting to see what all the undeserved overhype is about. *3/4 (Out of 4)

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