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Desert Blue

Morgan J. Freeman's Desert Blue appears to be a calculated attempt to revamp the warm '80s comedies of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) for contemporary audiences. An admirable goal — some of our cheeriest teen memories revolve around Hughes's pleasantly goofy flicks. Unfortunately, this offering isn't going to usher in warm fuzzies for the misunderstood youth of modern America — when Desert Blue isn't choking on the sheer force of its own angst, it's stumbling over its slipshod construction. Kate Hudson stars as Skye, a young teen starlet who gets stranded in the tiny (population: 87) town of Baxter, California, after a chemical spill results in a quarantine. Skye soon befriends a group of local misfit teens and falls in love with their leader, Blue (Brendan Sexton III). (Blue Skye — get it?) Eventually this motley band, which includes explosives expert Ely (Christina Ricci), racing champ Pete (Casey Affleck), convenience store clerk Haley (Isidra Vega), and the Galaga-addicted Cale (Ethan Suplee), manages to convince Skye that there's more to life than her acting career. The group bonds by sharing lots of alcohol and cigarettes, leading to a heartwarming conversation in which our heroes discuss what they'd do if it was their last night on Earth. (Ely: "I'd blow myself up with dynamite in front of my parents." Cute.) Desert Blue fails every test of good narrative storytelling, giving us consistently two-dimensional characters that reveal no depth or emotional development over the course of the story. Everything here remains firmly entrenched in the lowest common denominator. "You're disgusting!" shouts one of the kids. "No, you're disgusting!" cries another. Kids, kids, don't fight. There's more than enough disgust here to go around. Widescreen presentation (1.85:1).
—Joe Barlow

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