Friday June 16, 2000
"Coming Soon" might well be subtitled "Going Fast," because it will be. Debuting director and co-writer (with Kate Robin) Colette Burson has created three attractive high school seniors with some personality but no individuality. They attend a posh New York private school and express concern with being accepted into Ivy League schools, but in keeping with movie tradition they never seem to crack a book.
Similarly, they have no discernible interest in the world in which they live, for their self-absorption borders on the total. All they have on their minds--you already guessed--is sex. And more sex. It's amazing how boring endless talk about more and better orgasms can become. The title, in fact, is a crude pun.
Our heroine, Stream Hodsell (Bonnie Root), is fairly new to Manhattan, having been raised in New England by her now-divorced parents (Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neal), who were partners in a Tom of Maine-like natural products business successful enough to afford the mother and daughter a spacious Manhattan apartment with a luxe address.
When we meet Stream she has just submitted to deflowering by an exceedingly popular fellow student, Chad (James Roday), who is concerned solely with his own gratification. Gradually, Stream's best pals, super-rich Jenny (Gaby Hoffmann) and the exquisite Nell (Tricia Vessey), realize that not only has Stream never experienced orgasm but has no idea of what it is. A horrified Jenny and Nell, who are not without vulnerabilities for all their sexual experience, set about correcting the situation.
Stream carries naivete and inexperience to just plain dimness--and this is a girl trying to get into Harvard? She resists noticing that Chad is a jerk in every way, and not till the end of the picture does a young man who's been trying to get her attention from the outset register with her. His name is Henry Rockefeller (Ryan Reynolds) but insists on going by his mother's maiden name, Lipschitz. Henry is tall, handsome, witty, intelligent, literate, and he even has his own rock band. He holds the radical notion that it's nice to get to know a girl before he even kisses her, let alone have sex with her.
However, our Stream (of No Evident Consciousness) reacts as if he were Attila the Hun.
With such a numb-skull heroine, we are all the more grateful that Farrow is on hand, in the film's only role with any dimension, as Stream's '60s dippy-hippie mother, all but hidden in cascades of curly auburn hair. She may have been a flower child but discovers she's a traditional mother underneath, shocked that her high school senior daughter is experimenting with sex.
She herself has a new boyfriend (Peter Bogdanovich), a South African artist who goes on about how hard it is to express human suffering in ceramics. O'Neal has but a cameo appearance, and Spalding Gray is on hand as a guidance counselor hawking his own guide to sure-fire entry into the college of your choice.
The script manages a deft phrase now and then, and Burson's not bad with actors, all whom have what it takes to move on to more rewarding projects. Her point may be be that privileged Manhattan prep schoolers can be just as unsure of themselves as kids in less sophisticated locales, but there's not enough to most of her characters to make us care.
Credit where credit is due: "Coming Soon" is a good-looking New York picture that seems to have actually been shot there and not Toronto.
Coming Soon, 2000. R, for strong sexuality involving teens, substance abuse and language. A Unapix Films/A-Pix Entertainment presentation. Director Colette Burson. Producers Beau Flynn, Stefan Simchowitz, Keven Duffy of Bandeira Entertainment. Executive producers Thomas Augsberger, Matthias Emcke of Key Entertainment LLC. Screenplay by Burson and Kate Robin. Cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay. Editor Norman Buckley. Music supervisor Barklie Griggs. Costumes Melissa Toth. Production designer Anne Stuhler. Art director Mark White. Set decorator Susan Ogu. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Lola Glaudini as Leyla. Hamish Linklater as David. Denny Kirkwood as Colin. Mackenzie Firgens as Harmony. Bonnie Root as Stream Hodsell. Gaby Hoffmann as Jenny Simon. Tricia Vessey as Nell Kellner. Mia Farrow as Judy Hodsell. Ryan Reynolds as Henry Lipschitz.