Citizen Duane DVD Review

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If teen movies are any indication of their lives in the real world – which they’re not, it’s quite a relief when a film like Citizen Duane comes along. With a suggestion that today’s youth actually possess brain matter from the neck up, and are into more than porn, partying and puking.

A play on words of the film title Citizen Kane, in which Orson Welles inhabited the troubled when not terrifying psyche of newspaper tycoon William Randolf Hearst, this Citizen longs for a different kind of power among his peers. And it’s got nothing to do with grabbing the title of reigning stud or beer guzzling champ at school.

Douglas Smith is Duane Balfour, a serious minded young man who opts to run for class president, not for glory, but to immerse himself in the challenge of accomplishing something meaningful for himself and his school. Pitted against Chad (Nicolas Carella), the boorish most popular kid in school whose family happens to also be the most powerful clan in the suburban Canadian community, Duane, despite his efforts, suffers a humiliating defeat with barely a voting tally.

It seems that Duane can’t surmount being a town pariah. This, after his late father, a geologist and earnest idealist, warned of a pending ecological disaster and was shot dead by police while railing about it from his rooftop. And Duane’s run for elected office is also in a sense a bid to redeem his father’s legacy. Which leads him to move on to challenge Chad’s mother in an election, who happens to be the forever mayor of the town.

Directed by Michael Mabbott (The Life And Times Of Guy Terrifico), Citizen Duane is a lot funnier than it sounds, with a delicate balance between engaging and bittersweet. And with a satisfying switchup of teen cookie cutter conventions in movies, as the bright, charming and handsome geeky outcast goes up against the grotesque, buffoonish designated most popular kid in school. Citizen Duane, a movie about losers that’s an unpredictable and upbeat winner.

MTI Home Video

Rated PG-13

3 stars

DVD Features: Cast And Crew Biographies; Interactive Menu; Trailers.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.