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Coming-of-age and road-movie tropes are combined to familiar effect in About Scout, a new film from Laurie Weltz (Wrestling With Alligators) which she conceived with her daughter India Ennenga, who plays the title role. While the mother-daughter bonding is admirable, the pic features too many clichés to make it anything more than a mild diversion, albeit one enhanced by its unusually prominent supporting cast.
Scout is a 15-year-old, pink-haired free spirit who lives with her younger sister Tallulah, aka “Lulu” (Onata Aprile) — they were named after Demi Moore’s daughters — in the rundown Texas home of their elderly and infirm grandmother Mary (Ellen Burstyn). Left there by their carny father Ray (Tim Guinee) after the death of their mother, the two girls have formed an intense bond, with Scout acting as surrogate mother to her younger sister.
But when child-welfare authorities begin poking around, Mary calls upon Ray to retrieve the girls. He, along with his pregnant, drug-addicted girlfriend (Nikki Reed), eventually shows up, but only takes Lulu with him. The ever-resourceful Scout decides to hit the road in pursuit of her sister, accompanied by her new friend Sam (James Frecheville), a suicidal young man who has been committed to a fancy nearby mental institution by his upper-crust mother (Jane Seymour).
The two runaways get into predictable misadventures while traveling, including conning their way into hotel rooms and tying up a convenience store clerk who recognizes them from TV news bulletins. They’re trailed along the way by the easygoing “Red” (Danny Glover), who’s been hired by Sam’s mother to bring back her son and whose chief characteristic is his oversized ten-gallon hat.
Despite the melodramatic situation, little of interest happens in the film, with the young fugitives’ growing friendship — thankfully, considering their age difference, it doesn’t turn romantic — inevitably resulting in Sam breaking out of his depressed shell.
None of it feels remotely credible, but rather more like one of those contrived pairings-up that only happen in screenwriters’ imaginations. Ennenga delivers an engaging performance in the central role, and Frecheville nicely underplays his character’s moroseness. But their efforts are not enough to give this road movie any real sense of direction.
Distributor: Breaking Glass Pictures
Production: BrownBag Pictures, Decipher Entertainment
Cast: India Ennenga, James Frecheville, Onata Aprile, Jane Seymour, Nikki Reed, Tim Guinee, Shelley Hennig, Danny Glover, Ellen Burstyn
Director-screenwriter: Laurie Weltz
Producers: Beverley A. Gordon, Dwjuan Fox, Nicolas Emiliani
Director of photography: Austin Schmidt
Production designer: Megan Hutchison
Editor: Jim Curtis Mol
Costume designer: Meghan Anderson
Composer: John Dragonetti
Casting: Todd Thaler
Not rated, 92 minutes
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