I Like Movies
High school senior Lawrence (Isaiah Lehtinen), as this feature’s title suggests, really likes movies. In fact, being a cinephile is what his entire personality is centred around. He’s directing a school film with his best friend (Percy Hynes White), ecstatic about seeing Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, and he lovingly runs his hand across the shelves of his local video store as he hunts for something new to watch. Lawrence is so passionate about cinema that he believes there’s no way he won’t be accepted into film school in New York. To start saving money for tuition, he gets a job at Sequels, his local video store.
Described as a fabrication of writer-director Chandler Levack’s own experiences of growing up in the early-2000s, I Like Movies is a grounded and raw coming-of-age tale fronted by a solid performance from Lehtinen. However, the personal element is hampered due to an overly formulaic approach to the plot.
Much like Lawrence’s class project that acts as the opening, there’s a homemade quality that runs through Lavack’s feature debut. Between being presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio and featuring the occasional screen wipe transition, this film looks like it could have been picked up from Sequels. Nostalgia is a big part of the core of this story (nothing screams early 2000s more than ripped Sum 41 CDs), and the filmmaker knows how to lace the Easter eggs and references throughout the script without distracting from the main event.
Lehtinen’s performance skilfully moves between irritating and empathetic, with a change in facial expression shifting from punchline to heart-wrenching reaction and vice-versa. Lawrence is a terrible person in many regards. It’s the grounded way in which Levack approaches this coming-of-age tale where I Like Movies is at its strongest. However, this flick nevertheless falls into all the familiar genre trappings and narrative beats, particularly in relation to the dissolving relationship between Lawrence and Matt.
Amongst the hard-hitting moments, there are likewise a handful of gags that are too awkwardly misplaced to land properly. There are points in this film that feel like a by-the-numbers indie flick that trundles along doing its own thing. The simple and meaningful message I Like Movies ends on, though, makes the more movie-ish moments worth enduring.
I Like Movies is released nationwide on 2023.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.