My mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents’ bedroom.

There are quite a few teen-aged, quirky, personal movies out there.  They’re usually pretty good.  They either resonate or they’re funny or both.  The alphas of our species will probably have to be in a listless mood to enjoy them.  For us quirks, any time is a good time.  Rushmore (1998), Easy A (2010), Starter for 10 (2006), The History Boys (2006), and, now, Submarine (2011).

Oliver (Craig Roberts) is a little odd, but meeting his parents goes a long way to explain it.  Mom, Jill (Sally Hawkins), and Dad, Lloyd (Noah Taylor), are both pretty darn odd.  His girlfriend Jordanna (Yasmin Paige) is odd too.  Oliver is afraid that his mother is having an affair with total wanker, Graham (Paddy Considine), who’s into mystic stuff that’s so outlandish his mother’s inclined to think there must be something to it.  Human relationships are complicated and Oliver does his best.  It isn’t always good enough.  Poor Oliver.

This movie is so good.  It’s so funny.  It’s so well put together.  It’s a great way to spend an hour-forty.

Great acting.  It’s kind of one-dimensional for the character–almost all of the characters actually–but he’s got that dimension down.  Roberts, who seems like a close cousin of Daniel Radcliffe, lays down his character and performs the voice over to perfection.  Everyone’s motivation is pretty clear and understandable.  That doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement, but really, it’s an aid to the script.

It’s a fantastic script.  I imagine that it’s a fantastic book (by Joe Dunthorne).  Bravo to he and writer/director Richard Ayoade.  The comedy is of the awkward, honest kind.  It’s not brutally awkward, but the kind of normal awkward that arises when there are no good responses to events. Very British awkward.  But it’s–forgive me–full of heart.  I’m not sure how original it is–I mean, this is a teenager who has trouble understanding his relationship and that of his parents–but it is freshly prepared.

Great visuals.  Most of the freshness comes from this quality.  The style is…quirky.  Have I gone over my “quirk” quota yet?  I hate to do that to you since it’s such a non-expressive word.  I’ll try something else.  It’s filmed unconventionally, functionality is not the priority, colors are alternatively vivid and washed out, camera action is varied but never “art house.”  Were those any better?  How about “solid”?

It’s great finding/seeing these movies.  I couldn’t say “finding” by itself because that would make it seem like I’ve done something other than heard of it and ran across it completely by accident on Netflix Instant (sweet!).  Still, it’s like coming across a Wes Anderson–before they became too quirky to function (so by Wes Anderson, I mean Rushmore)–and totally giving in to its charms.  It didn’t get me drunk and take advantage.

There’s a little ownership that goes with this kind of find.  It’s mine and very few people share in it.  I share it with people and praise it lavishly.  It’s almost like boasting.  “Oh, you’ve got to see this, it’s absolutely hilarious.”  You say that sometimes just to make sure everyone understands that you got the joke.  Or, in its analogous genres, have such great, high, powerful tastes in film or whatever.

Like most tastes, I can’t stand it in anyone other than myself.  The boasting is obvious and patronizing.  If I don’t laugh because I don’t think it’s particularly funny, which is probably due to the fact you’re not a professional comedian, and then you have the temerity to ask “Get it?” you don’t know how close you come to annihilation.

In self-defense, there are jokes where you are allowed to say “Get it?”  These jokes include puns (difficult ones), very short (probably ironic) jokes, and the kind of jokes I like.  Whenever I relate a joke from Yes Minister (1980-84), I feel well within my rights to return your dumb glazed look with a “Get it?”

However, because I am in the fraternity, you need only pause and allow me to catch up.   If I don’t nod in apparent agreement (and silently prove your failure), then you may brutally dissect and explain the joke.  I’m one of those weird people who will probably laugh even then.

The strange thing about owning a part of a movie as if you’re special (despite the fact that neigh on 17,000 people took the trouble to rate the thing on a website to prove how special they are) is that paradox of sharing.  I own it and I’m special, now I want you to join the cult.  If you don’t (and thereby emphasize exactly how special I am), then this is an affront to me, the House of Ratigan, my tastes, and Western Civilization.

The paradox is resolved with the premise that your ownership (if accepted) is but a pale reflection of my blazing glory and when you go all new moon on it, you’ve disrupted my universe.  Maybe I’m just some rogue comet that meets up once every some-odd years with other, grander planets or I’m a moon to someone else’s star.  Or can I be?  Is this metaphor just collapsing into itself like the universe only to reduce to nothing and then explode once again with brute denial!

I digress.

The whole movie can roughly be described as understated.  That’s means it’s right up my alley.  It’s also British (Welsh), so it’s so far up my alley, I’ll see it twice.  I had high expectations for all of these reasons and they were met and exceeded.  You can’t do better than that.  Definitely worth the investment.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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