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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

TEENAGE GHOST PUNK -- Movie Review by Porfle

The word "lightweight" is usually used in a deprecating way, but in the case of TEENAGE GHOST PUNK (Midnight Releasing, 2014) I don't think anything weightier would've worked.  It would be like dumping an entire pint of ice cream on top of a Twinkie instead of a tasty dollop of Cool Whip.

The Twinkie, in this case, is a pleasant little tale of a displaced family: recent divorcĂ©e Carol (Adria Dawn), nervously re-entering the workforce in a new town; teen daughter Amanda (Grace Madigan), angst-ridden about leaving her old school and friends; and kid brother Adam (Noah Kitsos), a prematurely intelligent, erudite little wiseacre who enjoys getting on his big sister's nerves. 

What they don't know is that the neat little two-storey house they're about to move into is already inhabited by the ghost of Brian, a teenaged punk rocker who was electrocuted back in the 70s while playing guitar on the roof in the rain and has been unable, or unwilling, to "move on" since then.

At first, there are a few weird POLTERGEIST-type occurrences--rooms found in disarray, silverware spelling out words, bumps in the night--that Carol blames on the kids, but nothing really scary.  It's just lightly, comically spooky stuff because this movie isn't trying to scare us as much as it just wants to be lightly comical.

In fact, the funniest thing about TEENAGE GHOST PUNK to me isn't the ghostly stuff, but rather some of the secondary characters such as Squatchie (Jake Shadrake), a clumsy, extremely hirshute fellow student of Amanda's who keeps trying to get her to go out with him, and Carol's new co-worker Barry (Darren Stephens), a conceited jerk whose constant come-ons are delightfully annoying and groanworthy.

And then there's faux medium Madame Lidnar (Lynda Shadrake), recommended to Amanda by their new neighbors, a mixed-race gay couple who are both named Steve.  But best of all are a ghost-hunting group known as SPIT (Super Paranormal Investigation Team), a funny take-off of shows like "Ghost Hunters" where excitable team members creep around in the dark, jumping at shadows and "hearing" things. 

For me, the film's biggest giggles come when this gaggle of idiots are loose in the house or giddily explaining why all their equipment has an "X" in the name (because an "X" makes everything sound cooler).

Naturally, Amanda will eventually form a simpatico relationship with Brian (and his friends, who all hail from different time periods but are equally stuck in the limbo between two worlds) that helps compensate for her recently being dumped by her old boyfriend. 

There are the usual complications when Carol doesn't believe Amanda's ghost stories and blames her for various manifestations, and a twist or two that are so obvious that we must be intended to figure them out in one second flat.  But we know it'll all work itself out by the end because this movie has "happy ending" scrawled all over it.

It's all pretty smartly-written and acted in a way that makes even the less interesting scenes watchable, and writer-director Mike Cramer handles it all adeptly.  Still, by the time Amanda's Halloween party arrives--in which all ghosts will be visible to the living and all secrets revealed--the story has begun to lose some of its steam.  But by now it's as comfortable as an After School Special and remains easy to take until the upbeat fadeout.

TEENAGE GHOST PUNK may come up short for those expecting something with more depth and substance. For me, however, it's like a party balloon--lightweight, but colorful and amusing enough until it pops. 

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