Too cute by half, Beware the Gonzo will appeal to the 20 people left on earth who insist on broadsheets over iPad apps and/or those bewitched by star Ezra Miller’s pretty cheekbones. Parker Prep senior Eddie “Gonzo” Gilman (Miller), worshipper of Woodward and Bernstein, plans a fourth-estate intifada and enlists four other misfits from Central Casting to provide a muckraking alternative to the vanilla school paper. His biggest exposé—rats and grade-D meat in the cafeteria—leads to suspension, cult-hero status, and Assange-size megalomania. In his helming debut, writer-director Bryan Goluboff (scripter of 1995’s The Basketball Diaries) gives his protagonist a mildly charming, archaic zealotry: “We’re not hiding behind user names in cyberspace,” Gonzo barks, insisting that his underground rag must be an actual physical object before softening when staffer Evie (Zoë Kravitz) persuades him of the advantages of also having a Web presence. Miller brings subtle mischief and grace to a schematic role of unyielding self-righteousness and unbelievable mea culpas. (The upcoming We Need to Talk About Kevin will hopefully free the actor for good from micro-indie résumé-building.) Although Goluboff’s send-ups of high school are similarly broad—bullying, date-raping jocks; girl fights—Gonzo’s dedication to something outside himself (“A newspaper is for everybody. This is a public trust!”) is a welcome change from the apathetic adolescent twerps of recent teen-genre entries It’s Kind of a Funny Story and The Art of Getting By.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2011