The secrets contained in "The Secret Life of Girls" will be startling only to anyone who has never been or known a girl, and has never seen a film or TV show. Its dull parade of commonplaces passing for insights quickly grows wearying, with just enough sparks provided by a bright cast to keep auds awake. Theatrical future looks dismal, although cable berths could prove appropriate for this distaff "Wonder Years" package.

The secrets contained in “The Secret Life of Girls” will be startling only to anyone who has never been or known a girl, and has never seen a film or TV show. Its dull parade of commonplaces passing for insights quickly grows wearying, with just enough sparks provided by a bright cast to keep auds awake. Theatrical future looks dismal, although cable berths could prove appropriate for this distaff “Wonder Years” package.

Very thin tale centers on 15-year-old Natalie (effective Majandra Delfino) adrift in 1973 suburbs. It’s kid-business as usual until she finds herself caught between her unfulfilled hippie mom (Linda Hamilton, in a nice change of pace) and psych prof dad (Eugene Levy, doing some of his subtlest work, despite the cartoonish proceedings) when he’s caught dallying with one of his college students. Her dumb-lug older brother (Aeryk Egan) isn’t much help, and neither is her younger one (Andrew Ducote), since he’s given a series of silly hats instead of a personality. There’s also her foxy friend, Kay (Meagan Good, of “Eve’s Bayou”), but she’s interested only in following some cool frat guys, including one hottie (Keith Bogart) who actually has his eye on the bespectacled egghead Natalie. Naturally, the specs come off before things wind down, and there’s some a-growin’ up down by the old fishin’ hole.

Sadly, there’s also lame sitcom slapstick and a lot of feeble yelling instead of wit. First-time helmer Holly Goldberg Sloan (who penned such schlocky retreads as “Angels in the Outfield” and “Mighty Joe Young”) doesn’t display many storytelling skills — unless you find face-value exposition via voiceover a fresh device. Ralf Bode’s color-rich lensing looks fine, but every third shot is tilted to one side, for no explicable reason. End-credit seg playing catch-up with the characters adds a nice touch.

The Secret Life of Girls

(COMEDY-DRAMA)

Production

An Overseas Film Group production. Produced by Mark Borman, Dan Parada. Executive producers, Darius Anderson, Paul Mayerson. Directed, written by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Crew

Camera (color), Ralf Bode; editor, Shawna Callahan; music, Robert J. Ramirez; production designer, Denise Hudson; costume designer, Anne Herlihy; sound (Dolby), David O. Daniel; associate producers, Jim Glander, Kirt Eftekhar; assistant director, Jay Smith. Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival, June 3, 1999. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

With: Linda Hamilton, Eugene Levy, Majandra Delfino, Meagan Good, Aeryk Egan, Andrew Ducote, Keith Bogart, Leor Hackel, Vito Ruginis, Debra Henry, Dusty Kay, Alex Thomas.
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