All the Real Girls (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"The thing about real love is, if you lose it, you can also lose your ability to believe in it, and that hurts even more. Especially in a town where real love may be the only world-class thing that ever happens. "

 - Roger Ebert in his four-star review of this film

As with Roger Ebert's beautifully composed review of Lost and Delirious, his own eloquence surpasses that of the film itself.

But the film is pretty darned good.

Paul is 22 and works as a grease monkey in a run-down North Carolina mill town. Seeming to lack ambition, Paul and his friends have no purpose in life beyond rowdy fun and callous seductions. When he meets his best friend's sister shortly after her graduation from boarding school, the two fall into a perfect, all-encompassing true love. They share their innermost secrets and together live in a dream-bubble of mutual admiration and understanding.

Paul may be a callous seducer, but he's so gentle with the girl he loves, that he won't even take her virginity when they get a hotel room. When she makes some mistakes that he considers betrayal, this blue-collar tough guy is just as heartbroken and emotionally vulnerable as anybody with more "refinement". Although he is a mechanic in a Southern podunk town, his character is portrayed without any Southern or working class stereotypes.


Female: None.

Male: full-frontal nudity from Paul Schneider

It's a collaborative movie made by college buddies. Director David Gordon Green and star Paul Schneider also co-wrote the screenplay, and went to college together. Editor Zene Baker is another college buddy. I suppose you might call this a true collaboration. Green has the title of director, but when your two best buds are also your editor and screenwriter, not to mention the fact that one of them is on camera constantly, it's difficult to say where one person's contribution ends and another's begins.

The best supporting role in the film, Paul's likeable but dull-witted friend Bust-Ass, was another of the lads' college chums, acting newcomer Danny McBride.

The film has to be accepted on its own terms. Slow-paced, sensitive, and dreamy, it gets deep inside of its characters. If you would enjoy a slice of life comedy/drama that will probably evoke many memories of how you felt when you won and then lost your first love, this is an effective and heartfelt personal statement about that moment of time. The small town locales and the original score work to perfection to show "the way we were", not in the Hollywood sense, and maybe not in a way to generate a big box office, but in an insightful way that shows the way we really were.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Commentary by director and cast

  • Theatrical trailer

  • "Improv and Ensemble: The Evolution of a Film"

  • Deleted scenes

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

These young fellas are good, dawg! Look for good things from these guys in the future.

I wasn't the only one who was impressed with the potential of David Gordon Green. He's now working on a Miramax film scripted by Steven Soderbergh, produced by and starring Drew Barrymore.

The Critics Vote

  • Panel consensus: three and a half stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed only $500,000 in limited distribution. (It made its world premiere at Sundance 2003.) It was made for a million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C. Solid indie movie which shows a lot of potential. It's fresh, it avoids clichés, it feels real, and the director did a great job at using the music and small town locale to maintain a consistently dreamy tone. (It's also slow, and action-free, for those of you who prefer a quick pace.)

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