A ’70s set coming-of-age story, “Alex in Wonder” is a competent but unremarkable look at a teenager’s struggle to deal with family, friendship and hormones. Buoyed by a few recognizable names in its cast, this freshman feature by Drew Ann Rosenberg looks headed for cable or straight to video.
Story hinges on Alex Markov (Angela Gots), a 16-year-old aspiring dancer raised by loving, hyper-liberal parents Clarice (Ellen Greene) and Dan (Robert Hays). Encouraged by her tough but dedicated teacher Natalie (Genevieve Bujold), Alex has always dreamed of attending Juilliard after graduation.
But she begins to question her priorities when family and high school pressures seem insurmountable: Her parents’ marriage crumbles, her boyfriend Patrick (Danny Masterson) shows signs of a drinking problem and her best friends (Soleil Moon Frye, Lisa Brenner and Alison Lohman) are completely unreliable.
While “Alex in Wonder” occasionally touches on some poignant emotional truths — specifically, how the anomaly of divorce in the early ’70s makes Alex feel like an outsider — it suffers from an inconsistent tone that never quite assimilates the material at hand. Vacillating between over-the-top comedy and maudlin melodrama, pic feels like a schizoid jumble that rarely gels.
Gots makes a strong debut despite looking more mature than Alex’s 16. Greene infuses Clarice with a manic energy that belies a poignant sense of loss.
Soundtrack is appropriately evocative of the early ’70s and tech values are solid.