2.5 Stars
Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 97 minutes
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Eric (writer/director Stephen Berra), an intensely nihilistic yet charismatic youth, manipulates four other teenaged misfits into a “chance” meeting at 7-Teen Sips, a local coffee shop. Darius (Nikiyah Javar Clemmons) is a lonely overweight kid who’s tired of having girls just want to be his friend. Tiffany (Sarah Scott) is a sexy girl with a heroin addiction and a loose reputation. Sue (Heather Bergdahl) is a case study for depression and suicide. Julian, in love with Sue since the 2nd grade, suffers from stifling and overbearing parents. Eric dominates this group, drawing out and intensifying their suffering and alienation. When he crosses paths with Sue’s old boyfriend Jake (Jemuel Morris), a thuggish and mean-spirited hunk, Eric discovers a convenient symbolic scapegoat upon whom all the kids can blame their troubles. Ostensibly intent only on scaring Jake to send him a message, things spiral quickly out of hand under Eric’s subtle guidance, and the gloomy ringleader inexorably leads his newfound friends towards a tragic group suicide event horizon. Expect a lot of cautionary tales like this one in the wake of the Columbine shootings, (although “7-Teen Sips” was in the works well before that tragedy.) Hopefully there will be some that are more effective and powerful than this ponderous and preachy affair. The primary fault here is in the editing. While all the performances are solid enough, each scene plays out slower than a molasses mocha and lingers at least three or four beats longer than it should. While it’s hard to criticize any film that so obviously attempts to send a positive message, this is such a tedious film, there’s simply not enough coffee in all of its titular coffee house to keep you awake.

Posted on January 29, 2000 in Reviews by

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