Movie Review: ‘Almost Friends’

Review by Jeff Myhre

Coming of age films have the potential to be amazing. This one left most of that potential untapped. The dialogue isn’t particularly strong, the camera work is self-conscious and narcissistic, and the acting is average at best.

The premise is not bad. Charlie Brenner (Freddie Highmore) is a 20-something living at home and working in a movie theatre while his compatriots have gone on some kind of post-college life. A one-time promising chef, he now only cooks for his mom, step-father and half-brother. He becomes infatuated with Amber (Odeya Rush) who is working at a local coffee shop before heading off to university in the fall. Her boyfriend Jack (Jake Abel) is a track star and selfish jerk. Ben (Haley Joel Osment) is Charlie’s life-long pal and wingman who helps him get up the courage to speak to Amber. Meanwhile, Charlie’s father Howard (Christopher Meloni) shows up after years of being absent and claims he is starting a new career as a private detective – just needs a place to stay. Charlie talks his mom Samantha (Marg Helgenberger) into letting Howard stay a couple of days.

And who really cares? This formula has been done numerous times and done better most often than not. Frankly, the only part that sparked my interest was when Howard stole all of Samatha’s furniture and vanished. Sadly, Charlie tracked him down and what might have been a promising gangster twist returned to the mundane path the first hour of this very long hour and forty minute film set us on.

Highmore is a brave casting decision here, and the line between brave and reckless was crossed almost immediately. As Shaun Murphy on ABC’s The Good Doctor, his weird manner is built into the character who has autism. As Charlie, he is more than a little creepy, and it takes a good 50 minutes of the film before we find out why he has stalled. He just isn’t credible here.

Rush and Abel have an argument as the film gets to its close and one is simply stunned that the editor didn’t leave the wooden acting on the cutting room floor. Of course, this editor let a walk with Amber and Charlie to the bookstore go from sunset to midnight darkness. It must have been an exceedingly large city.

There isn’t much point to continuing – this film just isn’t very good.

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