What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that though this comedy may appeal to teenagers because it stars indie fave Deschanel, it has plenty of strong language (including many uses of "f--k") and shows its characters smoking and drinking fairly often. And though it's good-natured, there's something a little disturbing about the one-upmanship between Neal and his girlfriend. Plus, the movie is cereal-obsessed; the characters live and breath cereal trivia (kind of like the way the folks in High Fidelity obsess over music) to the point that the movie almost feels like a cereal infomercial.
What's the story?
Neal Downs (Aaron Stanford) is a musician who moonlights as the manager of Flakes, a quirky café that serves only cereal. His artist girlfriend, Miss Pussy Katz (Zooey Deschanel), wishes he would quit his job and finish the album he's been working on so they can finally start a life together. But Neal can't shake Flakes because its foggy-minded owner, Willie (Christopher Lloyd) is almost always out to lunch. When Pussy offers to man the fort while Neal focuses on his music and he refuses, she hightails it over to the upstart cereal bar across the street. The place is owned by a nerdy wannabe, Stuart (Keir O'Donnell), who's café is threatening Flakes' stability. If Flakes closes down, Pussy surmises, maybe Neal will finally focus on his art. But Neal isn't about to go down without a fight. Needless to say, their relationship suffers.
Is it any good?
If the plot seems like too little to sustain a whole movie, that's because it is. Cereal is the ultimate comfort food: easy, uncomplicated, reliably pleasing. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for FLAKES -- the latest film from director Michael Lehmann (he also helmed Heathers) -- despite the fact that it's about the hipsters and hippies who hang out at a restaurant that serves nothing but the boxed breakfast staple.
Charm alone -- the movie stars Deschanel, after all, and makes some interesting (albeit unoriginal) points about art vs. capitalism -- can't carry Flakes through. It's fun to see New Orleans through the camera's affectionate, even longing, gaze, and the cast clearly has rapport, but in the end, Flakes is simply much too soggy to relish.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the film pits art against commerce. Is it really that black and white? Can you be an artist and a successful businessperson at the same time? Would someone like that be an interesting subject for a movie? Why or why not? Families can also discuss Neal's relationship with his girlfriend. Do they act like loving partners? What's with all the plotting against each other? Why does Hollywood have a penchant for relationships gone awry?