×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Lisa Theory

Oscar-winning documaker Steven Okazaki ("Days of Waiting") does a resolute about-face with his second feature, "The Lisa Theory," a dollop of John Hughes-style teenage romantic angst beamed up into a hipper, early-20s stratosphere. Though it's missing the verdant peoplescape of "Singles," pic's airy comedy, affable cast and barrage of West Coast sounds should lure young auds in selected playdates.

With:
Devon ... Devon Morf Lisa ... Honey O. Yates Adam ... Avel Sosa II Jimbo ... Jim Matison Bob ... Mark Gorney Mark ... Bucky Sinister

Oscar-winning documaker Steven Okazaki (“Days of Waiting”) does a resolute about-face with his second feature, “The Lisa Theory,” a dollop of John Hughes-style teenage romantic angst beamed up into a hipper, early-20s stratosphere. Though it’s missing the verdant peoplescape of “Singles,” pic’s airy comedy, affable cast and barrage of West Coast sounds should lure young auds in selected playdates.

The Lisa theory (an infinitesimal variation on the Jennifer theory) states that women called Lisa invariably mean trouble. This Lisa (Honey O. Yates) is a p.c. groover who, against her better judgment, gets hitched to Devon (Devon Morf), the nerdy lead singer of a punk band. She moves into his co-op apartment, transforming it from anarchic mess to socialist collective, and then moves out again without warning, pushing Devon into lovelorn limbo.

From first encounter through awkward courtship, the relationship is engagingly recounted, with the co-op inhabitants providing plenty of agreeably goofy humor. But the inarticulate-and-unwashed-spells-cool equation threatens to wear thin until pic shifts focus to chart the romantic aspirations of Devon’s Winona Ryder-fixated roommate Adam (Avel Sosa II).

In terms of screen time, Adam is only marginally more visible than pic’s other, less immediately sympathetic characters, but the actor breezily injects his scenes with enough truth to shove other plotlines into the periphery. His crusade to rouse Devon out of hibernation in his fetid room runs parallel to a misguided plan to seduce a self-assured band manager (Jill Parker), and a slow-spiraling flirtation with a comic-bookstore clerk (Natanya Moore).

Okazaki has a good feel for casual, deadpan humor that partly whitewashes much of the material’s nagging familiarity. Frequently witty incidental observations on such things as the stunted mental faculties of comic book readers and adolescent hell act as winning distractions to some of the story’s more trifling aspects. Romantic conclusions are sweetly low-key, with Lisa reaffirming her decision and Devon accepting his abandonment in a way that compromises neither character.

Clearly a thrifty operation, pic nonetheless looks and sounds sharp. D. Matthew Smith’s camera cruises the San Francisco locations without featuring them to any degree that distracts from the characters and their various pursuits. Okazaki’s editing is a touch indulgent at times, particularly in the lengthy musical segs, which present problems of halting rhythm for non-aficionados of the slew of local bands on view. End credits carry an apology to all the nice Lisas and Jennifers of the world.

The Lisa Theory

(Comedy -- Color)

Production: A Farallon Pictures production in association with Colossal Pictures. Produced, directed, written, edited by Steven Okazaki. Executive producer, Peggy Orenstein. Co-producers, Doreen Lorenzo, Roy Kissin.

Crew: Camera (color), D. Matthew Smith; music, Jim Matison; art direction, Julie Slinger, Zand Gee; costume design, Anne Etheridge; sound, Michael Emery; associate producer, Zand Gee; assistant directors, Harry Yoon, Joan Bierman. Reviewed at Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival, Feb. 1, 1994. Running time: 80 min.

With: Devon ... Devon Morf Lisa ... Honey O. Yates Adam ... Avel Sosa II Jimbo ... Jim Matison Bob ... Mark Gorney Mark ... Bucky SinisterWith: Julie Slinger, Natanya Moore, Alicia Rose, Jill Parker.

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita' Inching Past 'Lego Movie 2' at Presidents Day Weekend Box Office

    James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel” has a slight edge over “The Lego Movie 2” in a tight race for domestic box office supremacy during Presidents Day weekend. Both are aiming for about $27 million, early estimates showed on Friday. The two titles are the only current bright spots as overall moviegoing for 2019 trails far [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

  • Oscars Best Song Nominees

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Songs

    This year’s crop of Oscar-nominated songs may be the most diverse in years: a ballad and a pop-rap from two of the year’s biggest films, plus a delicate lullaby from a Disney musical, a political themed anthem, and a novelty tune for singing cowboys. “Shallow,” the top-10 hit from “A Star Is Born,” is widely [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    All Oscar Categories to Air Live After Hollywood Protest

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed its controversial decision to hand out four Oscars during the telecast’s commercial breaks. Following a Thursday night meeting with top cinematographers, Academy leadership including president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have pledged to air every awards category on the live show a week from [...]

  • Academy Awards preparation 2017

    Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions

    Cinematographers who are opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have said a “productive” Thursday night meeting with Academy brass may lead to a reversal of the exclusions. American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum said in a letter to members Friday that he expects a decision by the end [...]

  • Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    When “The Dark Knight” failed to secured a best picture Oscar nomination, the snub was said to have prompted the Academy to expand the category from five nominees to as many as 10. A decade later, maybe out of fear that something similar might happen again to the immensely popular “Black Panther,” the Academy announced [...]

  • Chris Evans attends the "Lobby Hero"

    Chris Evans' Action Film 'The Red Sea Diving Resort' Bought by Netflix

    Netflix has bought global rights, excluding China, to Chris Evans’ action-thriller “The Red Sea Diving Resort” for release later this year. Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michiel Huisman, Greg Kinnear, and Ben Kingsley also star. “The Red Sea Diving Resort” is directed by “Homeland” creator Gideon Raff from his own script. Raff had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content