Hanging out is the ethos and raison d'être of writer-director Laura Colella’s micro-budget indie, “Breakfast With Curtis,” a drama too relaxed to dwell on conflict. Neighborly strife comes to a head in the film’s first scene, when Syd (Theo Green), a childfree crank, blows his top at his 9-year-old neighbor (Jonah Parker) for throwing a rock at a cat. Tension then dissipates from the movie, leaving just enough friction to perhaps produce a second of static cling.
That neighbor boy, Curtis, grows up to be a home-schooled 14-year-old with oversized glasses. He and his straight-laced suburban parents live unhappily next to Syd and his merry band of middle-aged bohemians. Bookseller Syd grumbles the most about Curtis and his parents, but he recruits the introspective teen to make a series of video blogs for his online storefront.
Beyond this general outline, plot and character development are afterthoughts, or maybe never-thoughts. Syd, whose volubility is an irritating marvel, is the only character who comes through as a fully developed individual, but the film doesn’t stay with him — or with the quietly blossoming Curtis. Instead, the cast of amateur actors — many of them Colella’s actual neighbors — takes over, but they fail to add depth to their onscreen personae.
“Breakfast With Curtis” is a convincing testament to the curative powers of midafternoon cocktails and ping pong, but it’s not much else.
“Breakfast With Curtis.” MPAA rating: Not rated. Running time: 1 hours, 22 minutes. At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.