'Big Time Adolescence' Review: Pete Davidson's quirks and Griffin Gluck's naiveté make it a touching comedy
Spoiler alert for 'Big Time Adolescence'
The year 2020 has been quite the joyride for Pete Davidson, as we saw the Saturday Night Live veteran go from being internet's goofy bad boy to a comedian with his own Netflix stand-up special. And now, the 26-year-old takes things to a whole other level as he leads Hulu's coming of age comedy 'Big Time Adolescence' to deliver his quintessential charm with reckless abandon and the same suave nonchalance that his sketch-show avatars have done in the past.
In this classic young-adult plot the movie sees Davidson as Zeke, a 23-year-old high school dropout who isn't quite ready to do away with his childhood and therefore, aside from his flourishing drug dealing business, decides to live vicariously through Mo (Griffin Gluck), his 16-year-old protege of sorts. Zeke and Mo's friendship sparked back in the day when Mo's sister used to date Zeke and even though that relationship couldn't survive the test of time (we wonder why) the smart but naive Mo's admiration for Zeke soared to a point where his parents felt compelled to vocally express their distaste in the absurd friendship.
But Zeke isn't the only one profiting from this friendship, as Mo looks up to him as the cool, tatted, platinum blonde-haired stoner elder bro he could learn a thing a two from. Even though Zeke spends his time basically smoking up, playing video games and cracking crass jokes with his signature profanity, Mo finds that aura beyond appealing, and hey - it's not the young boy's fault. That's pretty much what every high school kid finds interesting when he's on the brink of embarking into adulthood.
In ways, more than one, Davidson's Zeke is an extension of the personality the comedian has portrayed in the media and while he doesn't really bring anything new to the table, breathing more of himself into the character without trying too hard to dissociate Zeke from the real-life Davidson is probably the best thing he could have ever done.
While most might label the Hulu film as the cliched old wine in a new bottle, what really helps elevate its charm is the way all of the unique little puzzle pieces somehow fit together to give a refreshing collaboration.
Director Jason Orley, who also helmed Davidson's Netflix special 'Alive from New York', knows how to utilize the controversial comedian's quirks. Let's add to that the acclaimed actress Sydney Sweeney's expertise in coming of age stories, which we saw in HBO's 'Euphoria' and see it again in the Hulu film through her character Holly, aka Zeke's girlfriend. Davidson's long time friend and rapper Machine Gun Kelley also offers a compelling performance that might make one overlook the fact that he was pretty much obliterated by the real Slim Shady not that long ago.
It is Griffin Gluck's Mo however that does the most to surprise us. Even with strong resemblances to a '10 Things I Hate About You' era Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mo manages to stand apart as the confused high schooler who doesn't necessarily agree with his elder-brother type albeit dysfunctional inspiration, but can't entirely deny the prospect of becoming cool by selling drugs to high school kids for higher prices. There's confusion mingled with the need to grow up while still struggling to hold to on a glorious past when things weren't as complicated and responsibilities didn't galore. And even though the narrative follows the same old structural pattern of over a bajillion coming of age stories, it is the way these characters come together in all their flawed glory that's to watch out for.
'Big Time Adolescence' premieres on Friday, March 13, only on Hulu.