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MOVIE REVIEW: Submarine

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  • Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate and Yasmin Paige as Jordana in "Submarine."
  • Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate in "Submarine."
  • (L-R) Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate and Noah Taylor as Lloyd in "Submarine."
  • Sally Hawkins as Jill in "Submarine."
  • Paddy Considine as Graham in "Submarine."
  • Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate in "Submarine."
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Juno was an okay movie; people asked what bothered me about it. Well, start with the fact that no kid acts like Juno; like a hip, 20-something screenwriter. In Submarine, Oliver Tate acts and thinks like a kid. That means you might not always like him as a protagonist, but you can certainly understand and have no problem rooting for him.

Who hasn’t bullied somebody simply because it kept them from being bullied – or they naively thought that would impress a girl? The girl he hopes to make his girlfriend reminded me of the young Kelly Osbourne, but you quickly get past that, and the logic Tate uses for the girl he’s going to court is genius.

The way Tate describes the taste of Yasmin Paige’s lips after their first kiss is hysterical. The time he talks about them kissing a second time, and he explains “We kissed for non-blackmail purposes,” you literally laugh out loud. In fact, many times the theatre was laughing so hard, I missed the next few lines. It’ll make it all the more enjoyable when I see this a second time.

Tate has all the worries most 15-year-old boys would, but the added pressure of his parents failing marriage. This could be due to his dad losing a job, a new flashy neighbor, who is a bizarre, flakey mystic – that seems to intrigue his mother. The parents are well played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins.

As an example of the many brilliant lines in this movie, we first learn of the marriage problems when Tate tells us he discovered “during a routine search of my parents bedroom,” that the dimmer switch on their light hadn’t been used in seven months. The nights they had sex in the past, the switch was used.

Tate (Craig Roberts) does this narration in a way that’s highly original and clever, thanks to writer/director Richard Ayoade. Ben Stiller may be the big name that produced this, but it’s Ayoade’s comedic genius that makes this wonderfully heartwarming coming-of-age story one of my favorite films of the year.

This is the movie Michael Cera’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Youth in Revolt should’ve been.

Submarine will be compared to Rushmore, and it certainly has a Wes Anderson vibe. This is better.

It will be compared to Harold & Maude. This is better.

There’s a bizarre film score done with an organ, that seems perfect. And the fact that it takes place in Wales makes it more interesting than the run-of-the-mill American teen comedy.

Submarine had a few minor flaws, but as I sit to write this, I’m having a hard time thinking what they were. Okay, I didn’t think the chapter titles were necessary. That’s the only negative I’ve got.

This was a uniquely original picture that is clever without trying hard to be. I saw it the same week I saw Beginners, which is the opposite end of the falling in love spectrum – a man in his late 70s finding it for the first time.

I’m guessing both films will end up on my top ten for 2011.

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  • Rating: 5 of 5