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Laramie Movie Scope:
16 to Life

An authentic, engaging coming-of-age romantic comedy

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2010) The voice of a male narrator introduces us to Kate (Hallee Hirsh) in a small Iowa town on the Mississippi River, wearing a short, pink outfit and a cast on her broken left ankle while working in a locally-owned hamburger stand one day in the late summer. Cute and innocent, today is her sixteenth birthday, the fact of which she reminds everyone.

Her co-workers, Darby (Mandy Musgrave) and Rene (Shiloh Fernandez), the short-order cook, discover another fact: Kate's "never been kissed." Darby, on the other hand, shares with Kate that she's going to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend Harley when she gets off work. Customers come by for refreshments, including a guy from Minneapolis, who when he says suggestively to Darby, "I'm very easy," she snaps back: "I'm not."

A girl with ambition and an imagination, Kate, whose mother died when she was nine, reads serious books about the Holocaust, slavery, and currently Duck Farm #13 by Yutian Chan about Mao's China in which she pictures herself inside a re-education camp.

Upon her arrival, the owner Louise (Theresa Russell), a smoker and divorcee whose son Bobby is a by-the-rules young cop, says to her young employees: "I don't know which is worse - men or cigarettes." Kate's dad and Rev Kerr pay a visit during which the pastor gives the birthday girl a gift of a stun gun.

Wearing a tee-shirt with "Stop following me!" beneath an image of Jesus, one of the residents of the summer cottages, Carson (Will Rothhaar), a senior in high school, sends an electric current through Kate's eyes and nerves ("I'm leaning toward agnostic") when he orders a shake into which she accidentally puts her own straw into his cup - he drinks through it anyway.

Though feeling condemned to a prison sentence in director/screenwriter Becky Smith's authentic, engaging coming-of-age romantic comedy (putting me in mind of Waitress), Kate decides to play matchmaker to Ronald (Jaime Gomez), a paraplegic since 16 in a snowmobile accident, and her boss Louise without knowing of their earlier shared history.

Darby announces: "I'm gonna get you kissed." Another of the summer vacationers, Jordan, "a total player," flirts with Kate (who gives her name as Cindy); she reports a guy parked in the lot masturbating.

Russian émigré Tatiana (Emily Foxler) shows up wearing a neck brace for her shift (crashing her car into a lamp post) as Darby departs for her big date. When a gang of bikers led by Cindi pulls up, the girls hide inside the freezer, leaving Rene (speaking in a Czech accent) to take their orders.

The girls play a fantasy game of questions, asking each other to choose from situations - e.g., if you could only have children or sex, which would you choose? Asked if she's willing to break the rules, Kate says: "I like being the one who makes the rules."

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)