VOD Review: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
All the boys may love Mandy Lane, but this girl doesn't.
After spending seven years in distribution limbo, the first feature from Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies), All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, screened at this year's Fantastic Fest and is available for anyone to watch on various VOD outlets. But for me, having seen the film once was enough.
If I want to watch a 21st-century The Breakfast Club, I'll go hang out in my campus's Quad. That way I won't have to see star and Austin native Amber Heard (Machete Kills) constantly tucking her hair behind her ear or making sidelong glances in an effort to portray the "good girl" (a la Kristen Stewart). You know that really uncomfortable, borderline-gastrointestinal-disorder look? That is not method acting.
Mandy Lane is not only shy and quiet, but has been ostracized by her peers for years, that is, until she sprouted acceptable-sized breasts and began participating in high-school track.
In a similar fashion to its eponymous character, the reputation for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane preceded itself. From what I've read, the movie garnered praise following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival for its unique take on the slasher genre. The movie's hype was ultimately a tease, as it uses cheap, overplayed gimmicks, like daylight murder (presumably an ode to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and a gender twist in its effort to reinvent the genre. Spoiler alert: co-star Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) doesn't take his shirt off.
Cliches abound in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. With a formulaic plot (sans showing a killer's face halfway through the movie, which just made me want to stop watching) and weak character development, I didn't really care how or why anyone did anything or if anyone lived, except Mount for obvious reasons (my interview). There are also certain brutal acts portrayed in the film that have been done to death, much like this pun.
What is unique to a certain extent about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is its ability to portray an array of female (and male) stereotypes without completely exploiting them.
And, on a truly positive note, the movie's locations -- shot partly in Austin and Bastrop, and cinematography were beautiful. It had me longing to go back to my family's ranch in the Hill Country. However, I wouldn't have known it was supposed to be set in rural Texas if it weren't for the accent Mount used for his character (because he plays a ranch hand, duh). It could have been set in rural anywhere.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane may not be a cult classic, and Rodriguez-Tarantino fans may be just as confused as I was about the movie's strange Grindhouse-like ending sequence, but I will end on a positive note and say that I do recommend this movie for horror genre newbies for its conservative amounts of gore. If you love horses, however, you may want to look elsewhere.