Film Review: As Cool as I Am

This modest drama starts off shaky and never takes hold.

A coming-of-age tale suggesting that the most interesting kids are those who've largely had to raise themselves, Max Mayer's As Cool As I Am follows a teenage girl who's becoming painfully aware of the failings of her mother—a woman who got pregnant in high school and has had little time for her own growing-up process. Familiar faces in supporting roles don't do much for the commercial prospects of this modest film, which feels like a made-for-TV version of the prototypical Sundance-aspiring quest for identity.

Sarah Bolger of TV’s “Once Upon a Time” plays teenager Lucy Diamond, whose mother (Claire Danes) isn't doing well with the strain of long-distance marriage to Chuck (James Marsden), a lumberjack who only gets to come home four or five times a year. As her mother begins to spend more time at work, heading out in clothes clearly meant to draw male co-workers' attention, Lucy feels a sudden urge to test romantic waters herself. She starts making out with Kenny (Thomas Mann), whose longtime best-friend status might make others view the relationship as incestuous, at the same time that more boorish schoolmates begin to notice her sexually. In the space of a few weeks—particularly as she becomes more stirred up by the tension between her parents—Lucy looks like a candidate for some of the same mistakes her mother made.

Much of Virginia Korus Spragg's dialogue feels inauthentic, particularly the drily knowing commentary she gives Lucy; Bolger is intelligent but lacks the spark of precociousness that might wring wit from the lines. Mann is sympathetic in a nerdy way, if similarly challenged by the iffy material; their older co-stars fare better, finding the pathos in characters who don't want their best days to have been in high school.
The Hollywood Reporter