Starring: Johnny Simmons, Brittany Snow, Kumail Nanjiani
Director: Kevin Pollak
Running Time: 90 mins
The Late Bloomer is an American film about a man who never went through pubert as an adolescent, finally experiences all the changes and effects of the process over a three-week period as a 30 year old.
Although it sounds like a fun, silly premise, The Late Bloomer really doesn’t work all that well. Despite the odd laugh that pokes fun at memories of puberty and growing up, it’s a story that’s just a little too far-fetched at times to really grab you, while inconsistent characterisation makes it prove a frustrating and often dull watch.
On the whole, it seems to me that this film really misses the mark when it comes to delivering an entertaining and different take on growing up. However, before I get into why I think that is, I will say that The Late Bloomer does have the odd good laugh, and although the majority of its humour is rather crude, it works well when it has a fun jab at all the trials and troubles that everybody goes through during puberty.
So, the film isn’t completely devoid of fun, but for the most part, there’s just a lack of grounded consistency to keep it an engaging watch, never mind entertaining. Above all, while the premise seems like a fun one, it ends up becoming just a little bit too detached from reality, as we see a man whose not entirely unsensible life choices are completely stripped away as he suddenly goes through puberty at a late age, without any real understanding of what he’s like as a person and how those around him influence him.
I know it sounds a little nitpicky to criticise a film as light-hearted as this for character depth and consistency, but given that the comedy isn’t all that amazing, problems like this become more evident, and more frustrating.
Above all, the fact that our main character is turned into a completely different person without even the slightest thought of the impact on his own life or those around him is really irritating, not only because he does become more loud-mouthed and rude, but also as you feel like the time you spent during the first act getting to know a rather likable guy was not only pointless, but in the film’s own admission, entirely wrong.
And that’s another thing that disappointed me about this movie, a central message that centres on the importance of being ‘normal’ and exactly like everyone else. Sure, being accepted by people around you is important, and everyone has a desire to be seen as normal, but this film openly and aggressively shouts about how awful it is to be different to other people, which felt a little mean-spirited to me, and as such took away from the light-hearted, throwaway vibe.
Finally, the performances here aren’t all that exceptional either, with Johnny Simmons proving fairly likable at first, but really overdoing the jittery and nervous nature of a pubescent teen, while Brittany Snow is left with very little to do with an extremely simplistic character, and while supporting actors Kumail Nanjiani and Beck Bennett do occasionally offer a bit of charisma and fun to proceedings, they too don’t really do much to keep their characters all that grounded throughout.
Overall, I wasn’t particularly impressed by The Late Bloomer. It might sound like simple, throwaway fun at first, and although it does have the odd fun, relatable laugh, it’s a generally dull and frustrating affair, with awful characterisation, a rather mean-spirited message, and less-than-stellar performances, which is why I’m giving it a 5.4.