Tag Archives: Cristela Alonzo

Teenage Wasteland


by Christie Robb

Directors Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart take us on a spin through the life of alienated 16-year-old Abby (Fatima Ptacek) who has always felt like an outsider in her rural California town, certain she has to make it out to find herself.

Writer Cindy Kitagawa nails the egocentrism of adolescence. The arrival of a cool new girl in town (Mia Rose Frampton) and an indie rock band stuck in the area while their tour bus receives repairs precipitates Abby’s first life crisis. She’s thrown for such a loop that she’s willing to alienate her parents, teachers, and childhood friends in order to discover herself and her potential life path.

Is it with Dave (Kane Ritchotte), the sexy front man who tries to sweet-talk her into performing?

Running in counterpoint to Abby’s story is her mom’s (Cristela Alonzo). Abby is now the same age her mom was when she got pregnant. Mom’s hoping the apple falls very, very far from the tree on that one. Now, in her 30s, Mom is drinking a little too much, smoking in bed, and staring down the barrel of a divorce from a husband who got his coworker pregnant. During her job as a night nurse she hangs out with an older patient (played by the great Melissa Leo who doesn’t have nearly enough to do), also a former teenage mom, now estranged from her grown daughter.

At school, Abby struggles to complete a hometown history report. The purpose of the report, as the class frequently recites in unison is because: “Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.” The hope is that Abby will come to terms with the past and learn from it so she can choose the path forward that is right for her. A somewhat heavy-handed final act directly addresses this.

Coast doesn’t exactly break new ground in the coming-of-age genre. Far too much time seems to be spent on the thinly-developed stock characters of edgy-new-friend and dreamy-boy when Abby’s childhood friends and her mother seem much more charismatic and potentially interesting. But Ptacek’s Abby believably cycles between the joyful naivete of childhood, the judgmental anger of adolescence, and the more balanced perspective of adulthood. And the soundtrack kinda rocks.

Back to the Track

Cars 3

by George Wolf

As great as the Disney/Pixar lineup is -and it’s pretty great- the Cars franchise sits low in the batting order, especially after the debacle that was Cars 2 six years ago. Cars 3 rebounds nicely, but still can’t match the meaningful substance of Pixar’s best.

We catch up with legendary race car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) in a changing sports world. Suddenly, a new generation of “NextGen” cars, led by rookie sensation Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), is taking over. New team owner Mr. Sterling (Nathan Fillion) brings in a young trainer named Cruz (Cristela Alonzo) to get McQueen adapted to the new technology, but her “senior project” only fuels the feeling that the legend should stay in the garage for good.

Animation vet Brian Fee helms his first feature as director/co-writer with Cars 3, and while the visual style is characteristically luscious, the story that he’s telling never quite rises above the pleasantries of showing kids some talking cars and introducing a new line of tie-in merchandise.

The gags are amusing but seldom funny and the plot takes some turns that may confuse the young ones, but the bigger concern is what’s missing.

As Cruz reveals her true love is not training but racing, and McQueen reflects on his tutelage under Doc (Paul Newman), the movie has the chance to find the poignancy and resonance that has driven Pixar’s most touching classics.

You’ll find it in Lou, the Pixar short the runs before the feature.

Alas, Cars 3 drives on by, satisfied with “believe in yourself” mantras that are greeting card ready, and a first-place trophy for the cheerfully harmless.