My First Mister
In this cloying, dreadful comic weepy, surly pierced teen Jennifer (the ubiquitous Leelee Sobieski) becomes enamored of Randall, a friendless, fusty manager of a men's clothing store (Albert Brooks, adding some welcome levity). The premise--that an offbeat, artsy 17-year-old would lust after a dull middle-aged guy--is not only implausible and ooky (something that, surprisingly, seems to have gotten by the film's female creative team, writer Jill Franklyn and first-time director Christine Lahti) but old news cinematically speaking (Ghost World, anyone?). The film's one welcome development--that Randall helps the soot-smudged, troubled waif see that she's a walking cliché ("Do you have a copy of The Bell Jar next to your bed?" he asks her nudgingly)--is upended by a maudlin, manipulative plot twist involving terminal illness. Sobieski's melodramatic bleating is particularly cringe-inducing, the film's pace is leaden, and even half-decent supporting players like John Goodman, Carol Kane, Michael McKean, and Mary Kay Place fail to give My First Mister any zing. Stay away.