Debut feature by Gia Coppola (the 3rd generation of Coppola filmmakers) focuses on the relationship between two teenage boys — “Teddy” (Jack Kilmer) and “Fred” (Nat Wolff) — who egg each other on to ever more dangerous behavior (drinking, drugs, reckless driving, etc).
Kilmer and Wolff are both good, charismatic young actors, but Palo Alto is so “California Cool” that I had trouble staying awake…
Yet even so, I was infuriated by the casual treatment of their female classmates. Teenage babysitter “April” (Emma Roberts) is pressured into sex by her divorced teacher/soccer coach (James Franco), while her classmate “Emily” (Zoe Levin) masters the art of the blow-job. Feh!!!!! (JLH: 2/5)
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Top Photo: “April” (Emma Roberts) is a high school student, seen here in the bedroom of her very nice suburban home.
Bottom Photo: James Franco plays “Mr. B.” a teacher who also coaches the girl’s soccer team. He is divorced and has a young son who lives with him. There is no mention of his wife, how long they have been divorced, or whether or not they share custody. All Coppola cares to tell us is that Mr. B. asks April to babysit for him periodically, and over time, he takes advantage of her.
Let’s be clear here, folks: April has her eyes on “Teddy” (Jack Kilmer). She is not interested in a relationship with Mr. B. She does not “seduce him,” or “lead him on in any way.” He forces himself on her. So Mr. B. isn’t “just” committing Statutory Rape with a “consenting” albeit very young partner; Mr. B. is committing Rape Rape.
But of course, since Mr. B. is played by heartthrob James Franco, there is nothing to worry about, right? Any girl would be happy to be raped by James Franco, right? Grrrrr!!!!!
Q: Does Palo Alto pass the Bechdel Test?
April (Emma Roberts) has one tiny scene at home with her mother, and one tiny scene with the other girls on her soccer team, but these are throwaway scenes and I don’t remember any of these female characters (including Mom) having names…
And you certainly never see April tell her Mom that she would rather not babysit for Mr. B. anymore 🙁