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Hollywood is so stuck on the teenage market that it's turning the town into a veal processing plant. In the case of Girl, an indie film based on a novel by Blake Nelson and directed by first-time helmer Jonathan Kahn, the producers have taken a book that was notable for being by a guy who was exploring the consciousness of a female teen and turned it into another cookie-cutter coming-of-age teen comedy (this reviewer has not read the book). Girl stars Dominique Swain as high-schooler Andrea Marr in the fictional Porter City. She's on the college track, but spends her last year distracted by the joys of being a groupie. Andrea's parents (Rosemary Forsyth and James Karen) are very, very proud of her academic achievements and aren't really aware that she is spending way too many nights at alternative music clubs, trapped in mosh pits and pining after a super-thin, slouchy, mooching, selfish Kurt Cobain-style mood rocker named Todd Sparrow (Sean Patrick Flanery). The film charts Andrea's increased intimacy with the elusive Sparrow, and the fluctuations in her relationships with a clutch of friends (Summer Phoenix, Tara Reid, Portia de Rossi). In the end, Andrea "conquers" Sparrow, but she learns the valuable lesson that in life one must simply be oneself. This moral is reiterated by Swain in the DVD's short "making-of" documentary, and on the audio commentary track conducted by her and Kahn. Nevertheless, despite the poverty of its "philosophy," at the end of the day Girl, which was never released to theaters, is no worse than most of the teen romances that have come out over the last few years, and in some ways it's slightly better, bearing creditable performances from the cast (and Flanery has down pat the seemingly boneless body-style of the typical small-town, aspiring, Jim Morrison-mimicking rock star). At times even the now-required first person narration, by Swain, is legitimately funny, and the film also displays an honest affection, even protectiveness for its characters. On the other hand, some plot points, such as one character's suicide, are cursory. Other features on this double-sided, single-layered Columbia TriStar release include both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and full-screen versions of the film, with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. The disc also offers the film's trailer plus five others, "talent files" on Kahn, Swain, and Flanery, and an animated menu (28 chapters). Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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