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Review: Outcast kids defy camp bullies in 'Standing Up'

LiteratureMoviesEntertainmentArts and CulturePG Rated MoviesD.J. CarusoAlex Nepomniaschy

Scrubbed clean and sanded around the edges, "Standing Up" is a sanitized version of Brock Cole's '80s young adult novel "The Goats." It's a curious entry in director D.J. Caruso's filmography, a benign kids movie in a career that launched with the edgy crime drama "The Salton Sea" more than a decade ago and has grown increasingly more accessible in the years since. Perhaps it's meant to be a work his kids can watch, but it's unclear who this blandly titled drama is aimed at — devoid as it is of humor or any real hazard and lacking the provocative undertones of its source material.

When outcasts Howie (Chandler Canterbury) and Grace (the ethereally lovely yet awkward Annalise Basso) are stripped of their clothes and abandoned on deserted Goat Island by their summer campmates, they defy their bullies' and their own expectations by fleeing rather than shivering till morning, surviving on their wits and luck until they can meet Grace's mother in three days' time.

Beautifully photographed by Alex Nepomniaschy, "Standing Up" transitions both visually and thematically from the dark recesses of the cabin where Howie and Grace first meet to the wide, golden-lighted trail where their adventure ends — their timidity and fear replaced by confidence and friendship. But with one of the book's most harrowing incidents excised and Howie robbing Grace of the opportunity to show resourcefulness, the movie shies away from punishing their hubris, opting for feel-good self-realization instead.

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"Standing Up"

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements including bullying, brief smoking and language

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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