The Kids Are Annoying: Overwritten, Over-Angsty Daydream Nation


Writer-director Michael Goldbach’s Daydream Nation opens with a close-up on the lush, full lips of actress Kat Dennings, whose 17-year-old Lolita-esque character Caroline reclines languidly in bed. We’re immediately dropped into Caroline’s world and head via her voiceover, and the voice is immediately familiar. It’s studded with alterna-cool cultural references, world-weary cynicism and sarcasm, and an omniscience that allows for snippy summation of everyone and everything on-screen. “There’s more incest here than in an Atom Egoyan film,” quips Caroline at one point. To escape the doldrums of her small town, Caroline launches a love triangle with her thirtysomething English teacher (Josh Lucas, sexy even as his character becomes increasingly off-putting) and the stoner peer (Reece Thompson) whose awkwardness and hyper-emotionality lead her to snipe about his lack of manhood. As the trio become increasingly unhinged, a serial killer targets pretty teen girls, an industrial fire on the edge of town burns out of control, and ghosts of dead teens wander into frame. Daydream is decently acted, overwritten, slickly shot, decked out with the requisite indie soundtrack, and propped up with angst-ridden poses and pouting lips. It’s also another film in which on-screen teens, especially the nubile femme fatale at the center, are but vessels to showcase the screenwriter’s irony-drenched, self-satisfied intellect.