Max Winkler Helms ‘Jungleland:’ Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell, Jessica Barden Star

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Director Max Winkler has started production on Jungleland, the Romulus Entertainment, Big Red Films and Scott Free co-production that stars Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jessica Barden. Shooting began today in Massachusetts, with Winkle…

Film Review: ‘Flower’

Read on: Variety.

As icky a comedy as you’re likely to see this year, “Flower” comes from an angry place — one that is clearly more concerned about sounding provocative and clever than having anything meaningful to say. Seventeen-year-old Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) has serious trust issues. She feels abandoned by her dad, who’s serving time for a […]

‘Flower’ Film Review: Talented Cast Set Adrift in Disappointing Teen Satire

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s hard to know whether Erica Vandross, the 17-year-old at the center of Max Winkler’s “Flower,” is meant to be an a-hole we unexpectedly like or a likeable person who sometimes behaves like an a-hole, but Zoey Deutch’s performance constitutes one of the most curious mis-applications of natural acting charisma I’ve ever seen.

Deutch, winning in a lot of films unworthy of her (“Why Him,” “Dirty Grandpa,” “Vampire Academy”), commands the screen as if the quandary doesn’t matter, while Winkler and co-screenwriters Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer construct a story that lurks somewhere between “Sixteen Candles,” “Palo Alto” and “Fish Tank” but without the humor, insight or poetry needed to match her fearless, irresistible talent.

Deutch plays Erica Vandross, a San Fernando Valley teenager trying to earn enough money to spring her estranged father from jail by seducing local sleazeballs and then shaking them down for cash. Though she’s stayed willfully oblivious to the relationship her frazzled bohemian mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) starts with a kind-hearted square named Bob (Tim Heidecker), Erica finds her life turned upside down after his troubled son Luke (Joey Morgan, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”) arrives fresh and vulnerable from rehab.

Also Read: ‘Flower’ Tribeca Review: Zoey Deutch Stars in a Toxic ‘Juno’ Knock-Off

At Laurie’s urging, Erica and Luke form a tenuous bond largely built on the few semi-friendly exchanges they share when she isn’t being mercilessly blunt. But after learning that much of Luke’s pain comes from an unresolved claim that he was sexually assaulted by Will (Adam Scott), a former teacher who still lives in their community, Erica recruits high school cohorts Kala (Dylan Gelula, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Claudine (Maya Eshet, “Teen Wolf”) to avenge her future step-brother, unleashing a chain of events that forces them to deal with the very adult consequences of their teenage games whether they’re ready to or not.

The reason that so much of “Flower” works as well as it does is because it’s anchored so deeply by Deutch’s performance, which effortlessly dances on that razor’s edge between sympathetic and insufferable. There’s something identifiable and occasionally even charming about Erica, who is savvier and more streetwise than any of her adult counterparts, but she’s driven by a desperate absence of guidance — an almost clichéd need for some kind of structure or limitations — that leads her to suitably misguided choices.

Also Read: ‘Big Little Lies’: Adam Scott to Return for Season 2

As a teen trying to navigate her way through not one but two fractured parental relationships, Deutch imbues Erica with an agency that feels at once wildly unseemly, perversely appealing and utterly believable, the precise sort of preternatural maturity that would ensnare susceptible men not just against their better judgment, but hers as well.

The remainder of the cast bring their characters to vivid, believable life, from Gelula and Eshet’s dopey, media-saturated teenage wokeness as Erica’s partners in crime to Hahn’s apologetic, perfectly scattered take on Laurie’s laissez-faire parenting. For a comedian exceptionally skilled at going broad, and weird, Tim Heidecker offers a skillfully understated take as the uncool suitor who wins Laurie’s heart (and shows her firebrand daughter uncommon, and largely undeserved, patience), while Adam Scott manages to be convincingly skeptical — if not quite heedless enough — in his dealings with Erica, particularly as a man living in the shadow of an appropriately insurmountable accusation.

Watch Video: Kathryn Hahn Hails the Female ‘Roar’ of Vulnerability in ‘I Love Dick’

Unfortunately, Winkler and his co-screenwriters further muddy the intriguing moral complexity of Erica’s cycle of seduction and exploitation, as well as Luke’s molestation claims, first by interjecting her burgeoning feelings for Will into their pursuit of “justice,” and then by turning the story upside down with a series of events that feel increasingly implausible and “movie-ish,” maybe unless John Hughes was writing them three or more decades ago.

The nuanced character development of early scenes is replaced with a cartoonish sort of escalation of stakes, not to mention some improbable choices, including a disastrously-timed confession of feelings, that would have been rightfully, perhaps satisfyingly called out by the characters had they maintained the wry self-awareness that initially made them so complex, unique and interesting.

Further, and even without conversations in the zeitgeist providing an unflattering context for the events in the film, there’s a reasonable question whether, even if only incidentally, “Flower” devalues the claims of real victims by suggesting they’re lying, enticing perpetrators or otherwise complicit in the power dynamics that lead to assault and molestation. Certainly, the movie sides with the teens, and Winkler’s portrayal of these awful acts offers little sympathy for those who seem to need little encouragement to take advantage of others.

But using these crimes as little more than a plot device ultimately feels like a distraction, and a sleazy one, from the pain and loneliness that drives the teens on screen to try and reclaim their power in such wrongheaded, and eventually, much more destructive ways — at least, if the movie didn’t try to wrap everything up in a shockingly tidy, counterintuitive bow.

“Flower” marks Winkler’s second feature after the 2010 comedy “Ceremony,” which felt to Noah Baumbach what this film does to Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” or Sofia’s “Bling Ring”: a counterpart or alternative mining similar territory but trading substance for effervescence. With a different beginning, “Flower” could have paid cheerful tribute to the liberating powers of teenage romance; with a different ending, it could have captured the melancholy fragility of teen self-discovery.

Instead, audiences get a collection of great performances, led by a truly exceptional one, in search of a script that’s worthy of them in a movie with so much to offer that disappointingly, but bafflingly, seems determined to add up to less than the sum of its parts.



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The Orchard Buys Max Winkler’s ‘Flower’ at Tribeca

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Orchard has made the first purchase of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, picking up Max Winkler’s dark teenage comedy “Flower,” TheWrap has learned.

The film, which had its world premiere at Tribeca this past Thursday, stars Zoey Deutch as a 17-year-old girl in the San Fernando Valley who has to deal with her mother’s new boyfriend (Tim Heidecker) and his estranged son (Joey Morgan) while making money with her friends as a makeshift vigilante group. Max Winkler, who is the son of “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler, directed the film and co-wrote the script with Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer.

Also Read: ‘Flower’ Review: Zoey Deutch Stars in a Toxic ‘Juno’ Knock-Off

Spicer, Eric B. Fleischman, Brandon James, and Sean Tabibian are producers, with Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green of Rough House Pictures serving as executive producers with Andrew Levitas.

The sale continues the relationship between Rough House Pictures and The Orchard, who previously partnered on the film “Donald Cried.” The Orchard also released Rough House’s film “Hunter Gatherer,” which was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Winkler is currently signed on by Disney to write the script for the upcoming reboot to the 1991 film “The Rocketeer.”

The deal for “Flower” was negotiated by Danielle DiGiacomo, VP of acquisitions for The Orchard, with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Max Winkler’s Teenage Comedy ‘Flower’ Plants Itself At The Orchard – Tribeca

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: The Orchard has snapped up all North American rights to Max Winkler’s dark comedy Flower which had its world premiere Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The deal came together quickly, marking the first for this year’s fest, with buyers clamoring immediately following the film’s premiere.

Flower follows 17-year old Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) and her two friends as they spend their free time making money in unconventional ways, acting as self…

Zoey Deutch & Max Winkler On Their Subversive Teenage Comedy ‘Flower’ – Tribeca

Read on: Deadline.

Max Winkler has mastered both sides of TV and film as the director of such comedy series as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl as well as indie films like 2010 Ceremony starring Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano.
Winkler comes to the Tribeca Film Festival this year with a sexually-charged teenage comedy that not only is a nod to Paul Brickman’s earlier work, but also turns the 1980s teenage dramedy genre inside out.
Zoey Deutch plays Erica, a 17-year old who performs sexual…

Deadline Studio at Tribeca 2017 – Day 1 – Zoey Deutch, Max Winkler, Tom Bernard, Michael Barker & More

Read on: Deadline.

Deadline’s studio at the Tribeca Film Festival kicked off the first of five talent-filled days at the NYC fest with visits by Zoey Deutch and Max Winkler (Flower), Julian Sands (The Escape), Tom Bernard & Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics, and many more. Photographer Mark Mann is behind the lens for our series of photo sessions and video interviews. Click on the image above to open the gallery, and follow Deadline for more photos and video interviews from Tribeca.
P…

‘Flower’ Review: Zoey Deutch Stars in a Toxic ‘Juno’ Knock-Off

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Max Winkler’s crass and disgustingly amoral “Flower” is a mess of a movie that plays as if it were pitched as “Juno” meets “To Catch a Predator.” Zoey Deutch, who plays the film’s anti-heroine Erica, looks and behaves so much like a lightweight mini-me version of Ellen Page that the connection to “Juno” would be there even if Erica hadn’t been written as a foul-mouthed variant on Page’s wised-up teenaged character.

“Flower” opens with the sound of heavy breathing, and we eventually see that 17-year-old Erica is fellating a cop to sexual climax. He asks her where she learned her oral skills, and she gives him a heavy look and says, “Middle school.” This line is obviously supposed to be humorous and “edgy,” but Winkler (the son of Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame) goes for his would-be laughs in such a hard-sell way that they almost never land.

Erica’s father is in jail for trying to rob a casino, and she is trying to earn money to make his bail by blackmailing the older men she services. When Erica is done with the cop, we see two of her young female friends filming him and calling him a pervert and demanding money from him. Winkler presents their cruel behavior as rebellious and righteous.

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About 40 percent of Erica’s dialogue has her describing the male member or referring to it, and she enjoys drawing male penises in notebooks, but this obsession of hers just feels like a colorful character trait that has been hung on her, so to speak. Erica’s mother Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) has her hair pulled up in a ponytail with a cutesy scrunchie, and she wears bright red lipstick and hoop earrings, and this is supposed to signify that she’s trashy.

Laurie has invited her new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) to live with them, and Bob brings along his troubled son Luke (Joey Morgan, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”), who is shy and overweight and has had an addiction to OxyContin pills. The extremely obnoxious Erica keeps offering oral sex to Luke, and he keeps brushing her off.

Also Read: Tribeca Film Festival to Present Springsteen, Kobe, TV … and Oh Yeah, Movies

Erica walks in on Luke trying to hang himself, and Bob confesses that Luke was never the same after he accused a teacher of molesting him as a kid. Erica and her friends have been regularly ogling a guy named Will (Adam Scott) at a bowling alley, and it turns out that Will is the accused teacher. And so Erica accosts Will in a grocery store and sets herself up to get revenge for her stepbrother. “I deal with these sleazebags on the reg,” she tells Luke.

There are some movies that are misguided in a simple way, and then there are those rare unrelentingly awful movies like “Flower” that decide to go wrong in as many ways as possible in as short a time as possible. Erica is supposed to be a charmingly frank character, but she is actually a thug and a bully who sets in motion a criminal series of events that the movie treats as no big deal.

It’s hard to pick just which is the worst scene here, but it is probably the one in which Erica finally lets down her guard and gets all teary-eyed when her mother says that she can never keep a man because Erica chases all of them away. There are lots of different kinds of bad taste on display in “Flower,” but Winkler hits a new low when he has the temerity to ask for sympathy for Erica in this moment.

Also Read: ‘Tom of Finland’ Biopic Lands US Release From Kino Lorber

“Flower” starts out as a shrill and unfunny comedy and it progresses to being a morally repugnant social justice movie and then a road movie and then an unlikely romance, and none of these movies has even a trace of believability. In a way, “Flower” becomes slightly more bearable when it tries to be serious after failing so badly to be hip and funny, but embedded within the later dramatic scenes are desperately dumb plot decisions that lead us to a calamitous ending that beams with bent good will toward two characters who have done nothing at all to earn it.

Many movies are poor or poorly made, and they can be forgiven that. “Flower” is not forgivable because it is actively hateful and offensive, and not even the phrase “dark comedy” can begin to excuse that.

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‘Ingrid Goes West’ Acquired by Neon at Sundance

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a number of competitive bids Tom Quinn and Tim League’s new distribution banner, Neon, have acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Sundance breakout, “Ingrid Goes West,” following the world premiere on Friday night.

Directed by Matt Spicer and starring Aubrey Plaza (“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” “Parks and Recreation”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”).

Based on a script by Spicer and David Branson Smith, the dark comedy also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff.

Also Read: Power Outage at Sundance Fest Theater, Screenings There Cancelled

“Ingrid Goes West” follows Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) a mentally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Olsen), a social media “influencer” with a seemingly-perfect life. When Ingrid decides to drop everything, and move to the west coast to befriend Taylor in real life, her behavior turns unsettling and increasingly dangerous.

“Ingrid Goes West” marks Spicer’s feature directorial debut. He recently co-wrote Flower, along with Max Winkler who will also direct. The film is a twisted coming-of-age comedy starring Zoey Deutch, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Tim Heidecker, which Spicer will also produce alongside Rough House Pictures and Diablo Entertainment. Along with Winkler, Spicer will write the recently announced Rocketeer sequel for Disney.

Star Thrower Entertainment and 141 Entertainment financed and produced.

Producers include Jared Ian Goldman, Star Thrower Entertainment’s Tim and Trevor White, 141 Entertainment’s Adam and Robert Mirels, and Aubrey Plaza.

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Mary Solomon, Rick Rickertsen and Allan Mandelbaum executive produced.

CAA represented the US rights and negotiated the deal.

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