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‘North Hollywood’ review: Style versus substance

Kick, push.

North Hollywood is a film that chooses to go style over substance. The coming of age story is a familiar one. Michael (Ryder McLaughlin) just graduated from high school and is trying to figure out what to do with his life. As some of his friends prepare for college, Michael tries to decide between following his dreams or following a more traditional path. 

There is nothing from in the plot that will pop out to the audience. Michael wants to be a professional skateboarder, but his construction worker father (Vince Vaughn) thinks there is no future in it. There is the longtime crush (Miranda Cosgrove), the friends who know what they are doing with their lives, and the people Michael wants to impress. 

One of the reasons coming of age stories work so well is the nostalgia they provide. Everyone can relate to growing up and not knowing what to do or being the only one that seems undecided. Becoming an adult is a difficult time and filled with life altering decisions. North Hollywood definitely captures these feelings and the confusion surrounding them well.

That being said, it only scratches the surface. The film caters to the emotions that anyone can relate to. Reminding someone of what it is like to be a recent high school graduate or to have an unrequited crush on someone is not especially difficult. The best movies in the genre appeal to the low hanging fruit while also maintaining a level of timelessness. It is why John Hughes movies are still loved while Rebel Without a Cause is seen as more humorous than anything else. 

The big appeal of North Hollywood will come from its aesthetic. In between the customary script are clips of the cast skating. There are some moments that pop off the screen, but for the most part there is an feeling of “been there, done that”. Does this make it a bad film? Not by a longshot. But it is one that will have limited appeal.

North Hollywood comes to on demand May 14

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