Lending a whole new notion to the concept, ‘diversify,’ small screen hottie Hilary Duff has been moving on in a big way from her kid celebrity roots carved out on Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire, to last year’s stint in the social satire War, Inc. Where she discombobulated John Cusack’s jaded US military industrial complex corporate mercenary as Yonica Babyyeah, a Middle Eastern war zone bridal gunslinger insurgent ditching white taffeta to kick imperialist male butt instead, when not suggestively slipping scorpions down her underwear.
Now Duff has moved on to the Jersey Shore, specifically sleepy suburban hamlet Ocean Grove, in Nancy Bardawil’s According To Greta. Duff is the moody seventeen year old contrarian title character Greta, an extreme problem child sent off by her exasperated party animal mom, Karen (Frozen River’s Melissa Leo) to spend the summer with her grandparents, in hopes of doing some damage control on her defiantly bad behavior. Which includes packing a wish list diary of musts, like losing her virginity and mulling assorted methods of creative suicide.
Arriving in Jersey under duress in ‘exile’ and with a massive chip on her shoulder, Greta has also been supplied by Mom with prescription pills to “make me normal and boring.” Just because she happened to have set the briefcase of Mom’s latest – spouse number nine – on fire.
Not exactly Juno though excelling in a certain vocal talent for snotty teen talk that’s as defiantly bratty and anti-grownup as can be, Greta talks herself into a waitress gig at a local seafood eatery after her grandparents Katherine (Ellen Burstyn) and Joseph (Michael Murphy) refuse to cough up any allowance. Where she sets her seductive sights on line cook Julie (Evan Ross), an unsuspecting earnest young guy from the neighboring Asbury Park ghetto, as her first ever sexual experiment. Along with the added bonus of conniving to exploit him as a race baiting tool, to embarrass her conservative leaning grandparents.
According To Greta is a bittersweet cocktail of alternately nasty and melancholy prankish charm. Though it’s difficult at times to buy into delectable male magnet Duff as a scornful loner with mighty low self-esteem. But the never disappointing – and still very much into senior sex advocacy on screen – Ellen Burstyn provides a welcome, glowing and heartfelt reality check into the downer proceedings. That is, when reminding Greta just how precious living can be when you’re so much closer to the end of the line, than a troubled youth on the brink of life’s as yet unrevealed discoveries.
Anchor Bay Entertainment