Palo Alto

Director: Gia Coppola
Year Released: 2013
Rating: 2.0

Trifling portrait of California Kids Being Sad and Confused, centering on particularly morose innocent April (Emma Roberts), her tense relationship with her older soccer coach (James Franco) and two schoolmates who like to smoke pot (Jack Kilmer) and use girls (Nat Wolff). Though the short stories this is based on - hastily penned by Franco in between working on five other pet projects, no doubt - doesn't bother developing the characters beyond your traditional modern teen archetypes and instead relying heavily on West Coast (but not Best Coast) atmosphere to glide along (all respectfully captured by cinematographer Autumn Durald). In print, Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero and Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides set the bar for stories about young adulthood and a sense of disconnect (on screen, Sofia did a decent job with the admittedly difficult Eugenides text), but this is barely trying ... and like Franco's other half-assed artistic endeavors, it's a little admirable for barely trying.