todd solondz is probably most famous for his happiness and welcome to the dollhouse that resulted in almost a cult-like following. his latest storytelling is awkwardly cut into two pieces supposed to contrast fiction and non-fiction, blurring and switching around tale and reality. I guess one can classify it as a teen movie about... well, about quite a few things - from writing to teen problems, at least this seems to be the intention.
it has a terrific cast (john goodman, julie hagerty, leo fitzpatrick (kids, bully), franka potente (a secondary role for a minute or two), selma blair) and quite a few damn funny moments.
first story had a lot of potential - an aspiring writer girl sleeping with a crippled kid (ironically, the same kid that talked about "fucking crippled bitches" in kids) and then sleeping with the professor and trying to write a story about it. there were quite a few disturbingly awkward and funny moments as well as some great lines; I wish it have been developed further, it had full potential of being bizarre and electrifyingly weird. apparently, this was not an intention, so the story ends abruptly and the film starts anew with a rich suburbia family (john goodman, julie hagerty) raising an apathetic caricature of a kid. the film falls into a shallow farce that is quite funny, piling up grotesque characters, and yet never having a message, or any significance promised by film reviews or opening first story. I suppose one can extract some meaning out of contrasting two stories, but it would be way too artificial and characters have been taken too far to fit the genre of comedy, making it impossible to convey any serious message.
all in all, it could be disheartening to watch the first story fall and crumble under the weight of second piece, but if you be light-hearted enough and lower your expectations, this could be lots and lots of fun.