The Lookout

Following the suggestion from Serving Older Teens (Anderson, 2003), I decided to include a few movies suggested by real live teenagers. The Lookout is from the list of a teen who also included The Princess Bride, Across The Universe, any Brat Pack movie, and Iron Man. I chose to watch it for the database because it was the one I heard the least about and because it was a crime movie, which is not a genre I had included anywhere else in the database.

Director: Scott Frank
Writer: Scott Frank
Actors Include: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher
Producers: Walter Parkes, Laurence Mark, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber
Studio: Miramax
Copyright Date: 2007
Official Website: http://video.movies.go.com/thelookout/

Teaser: Chris Pratt was the star of his high school hockey team until a car accident gave him brain damage. Ten years later he is eking out a living as the night janitor at a bank when he falls in with the wrong crowd.

Plot Summary: Ten years after Chris Pratt, the star of the high school hockey team, is in a devastating accident, he works as the night janitor at a bank. The accident left him brain damaged, so he must write things down in a notebook in order to remember them. He lives with his friend Lewis, who is blind, and depends on his family for financial support. When an old school mate, Gary Spargo, introduces him to Luvlee Lemons, he begins to be sucked in to Gary’s gang of criminals.

Critical Evaluation: The Lookout is a slow paced, introspective sort of crime movie. Chris Pratt’s inner journey shapes the action. His brain damage and his guilt over the accident color the film with an almost suffocating angst. It is as if the viewer is trapped in Chris’ brain, unable to remember how to function, but knowing what a normal life feels like. The supporting characters are vaguely interesting, but none of them pop off the screen to engage the viewer’s empathy. Chris’ roommate Lewis, with his quirky mannerisms, is perhaps the most enticing character. The ending leaves one feeling ground down but vaguely hopeful.

Rating: R
Curriculum Ties: None

Genre: Crime
Alternate Genres: Drama, Thriller, Bank Heist
Setting: Rural Missouri

Challenge Issues: There is sex and violence in The Lookout, although for a bank heist movie there is a surprising lack of explosions and car chases. Parents might be reassured by first viewing the movie themselves, as it is more of a psychological drama than an action movie. This movie may not be appropriate for some teens, however, and it does have an R rating.

About the Writer/Director: Although The Lookout is Scott Frank’s directorial debut, he has written or adapted several films, including Little Man Tate, Dead Again, and Get Shorty. He counts Harold and Maude and Dog Day Afternoon as two movies which deeply inspired him (Dawson, 2007 Retrieved August 7th, 2009 from http://filmmakermagazine.com/directorinterviews/2007/04/scott-frank.php).

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