THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: After almost four decades, I still recall the humiliations as well as the verbal slings and arrows volleyed at me in my teenage years. I could empathize with misanthropic high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) whose sense of isolation deepens when her “perfect” older brother (Blake Jenner) begins dating her long-time best friend (Haley Lu Richardson). The irony in rookie director Kelly Fremon Craig’s screenplay is that Nadine is cute enough to attract the attention of an equally awkward guy (Hayden Szeto) who may be an antidote for her self-absorption and loathing. The storyline is similar to one of the plots from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) and after years of watching R-rated “coming of age” movies, I realize that just about all of them, like this one, are about making a connection with someone you’ve wanted to “hook up” with who’s either out of your league or doesn’t even know you exist. But the heart of the movie is Steinfeld’s (TRUE GRIT) angst-ridden character who embodies the insecurities of adolescence. Comic relief is added by the underrated Woody Harrelson (See CLOSING CREDITS.) as a sardonically sympathetic teacher who can relate to the neuroses of youth because he’s “been there, done that”. In supporting roles, newcomer Jenner stands out in his revelatory scene and Kyra Sedgwick (BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY) adds dimension to the stock character of the oblivious mother dealing with her own struggles. With a predictable plot and the inevitable contemporary musical soundtrack, SEVENTEEN doesn’t really venture into new genre territory. But it’s smart enough to realize that it’s actually a movie for adults who can now look back on their youth with the knowledge that the best thing about the teenage years is that you were able to live through them and become twenty. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some other good movies starring Woody Harrelson – WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP (1992), NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994), KINGPIN (1996), THE PEOPLE vs. LARRY FLYNT (1996)*, WAG THE DOG (1997), WELCOME TO SARAJEVO (1997), A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2006), NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007), THE MESSENGER (2009)**, ZOMBIELAND (2009), THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)

*Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor

**Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor