A film like As Cool as I Am is contradictory in its construction, filled with the type of self-indulgent naivety only a teenager the age of the protagonist would likely find relatable while also containing enough explicit content to receive an ‘R’ rating. Even more significant with this coming-of-age tale is the lack of focus when it comes to tying together the film’s themes and ideas. Rather than making any real statements about adulthood or the journey towards it, this is just a film about a lot of random decisions made by a teenager surrounded by people just as immature as she is, despite her impressive vocabulary and propensity for culinary arts.
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Diamond (Sarah Bolger) has horrible parents on polar opposite scales, but has somehow managed to become mature and responsible. Then there are moments which throw all character development out the window and have Lucy acting as irresponsible as possible in ways that nearly guarantee she turns out just like her unhappy parents. I suppose this could be construed as accurate in its inconsistencies for the mere fact that the main character is a teenage girl, but the logic of the narrative’s direction was also lost on me. Based on the book by Pete Fromm, Virginia Korus Spragg’s scattered screenplay lacks focus, direction, or purpose.
Even casting can’t save the gaps in logic from the screenplay and director Max Mayer, though the supporting roles were beefed up with potential. Casting likeable actors in despicable roles, however, does little for the film aside from a flashier poster with more names to be plastered on as a selling point. Bolger appears far too old to play 16 convincingly, and Mayer’s only solution for this is to have the actress nearing mid-twenties wear baggy clothing for the entire film. Claire Danes plays Lucy’s immature mother, lying and cheating on her husband and treating her daughter like a roommate rather than a child. James Marsden is the unfortunate husband, whose job as a trucker keeps him away for long periods. He has brief visits with bouts of jealousy and possessiveness for his wife and daughter before disappearing again.
No need to go into greater detail about this film, especially its over-reliant obsession with teenage sexuality in its most unconvincingly awkward forms. Unless you are a fan of the poorly made coming-of-age independent film, for which there are countless variations better than this, I would not recommend this film for anyone. It is almost the same storyline as The To Do List, if it were a bad independent film instead of a bad studio comedy. The Blu-ray includes behind-the-scenes footage and a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 3/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Disc Features: 3/10