Just one movie last Tuesday night. Back on opening night, I refused to sit in the balcony to see HEY HEY, IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER. If I had, then Tuesday night would've been free for more. As it was, I went to Palo Alto to catch this Australian coming-of-age comedy.
Esther goes to a very clique-y private school, where she definitely doesn't fit in. She eats her lunch alone watching all the popular girls eating together. She and her brother are preparing for their bar/bat mitzvah, but the coming-of-age comes a bit later. On the way home from school, Esther meets Sunni (Keisha Castle-Hughes, the WHALE RIDER all growed up). Sunni goes to public school, her mom is a stripper, and she's just about the coolest kid Esther has ever met. So she transfers schools...sort of. Every day she goes over to Sunni's house, changes into a public school uniform, and goes to a school where she's not enrolled and pretends to be a Swedish exchange student (meanwhile, at her old school everyone thinks she's on vacation in Sweden, and her parents are so clueless they don't know anything is going on). In the public school, Esther falls in with Sunni's group, The Lions. But ultimately, she won't fit in there, either. In a way, being welcomed into a group causes more pressure, as now she actually has expectations to live up to. So she engages in a little kissing, a little bullying, and even giving a boy a little "mouth to south" resuscitation.
It's a pretty standard "learn to be yourself" message, and there are some stereotypical moments ("No, mom! Look at me! Look! At! Me!"). But it's got enough going for it--some funny moments (pretty much everything with her brother) and some good acting by Keisha Castle-Hughes, Danielle Catanzariti as Esther, Christian Byers as her brother Jacob, and Toni Collette as Sunni's mother.