Palo Alto

Palo Alto highlights the desperate housing shortage in this overpriced area of California.
Palo Alto highlights the desperate housing shortage in this overpriced area of California.

Teddy likes April (Emma Roberts). April likes Teddy. Unfortunately they’re teenagers and have no idea how to talk to each other. They fall into squirming inarticulacy in each other’s presence, despite being smart and likeable kids.

April, meanwhile, also has a crush on her soccer coach (James Franco, who also wrote the short stories this film is based on). And Teddy hangs out with Fred, a Bad Influence, whose anarchic bravado hides some deeper malaise. Emily likes Fred, but thinks sex is a shortcut to love.

This is light on plot, so the tension comes from watching these half-formed adults walk a tightrope between enlightenment and disaster. Roberts is especially watchable, brilliantly blending brains and vulnerability. 7/10

Released August 14, 2014.

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