Emily Chase, not looking a day over 15, is fantastic in the lead role, a mix of sarcasm, understated and awkward beauty, and a great mix of naivete and wisdom. She’s the core of the film, and much of the success must be placed on her shoulders. She gets great help from the rest of the ensemble, from a pitch perfect performances from the likes of J.K. Simmons, Alison Janney, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner and Michael Cera, once again playing his role as the definitive awkward teenager.
There are heavy issues to deal with, to be sure, but the film is surefooted and deals with each in turn, never shying away from the truth of the emotion, never dragging the plot down with dour or moralistic observations.
It’s a thinking person’s teen flick, a feel-good film that earns its earnestness. It’s got little-film-that could spirit that could see it succeed like Little Miss Sunshine, but for my money it’s the better of the two. Rietman and crew have constructed a little gem of a film, and it deserves whatever wide audience it can accrue.