“A sexually-curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally-unstable stepbrother.”

Director: Max Winkler
Writers: Alex McAulay, Matt Spicer, Max Winkley
Staring: Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott
Release Date: March 16, 2018

Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) is a high school teenager who is one of a kind. She is open to exploring her sexuality and takes revel in being the outsider in terms of societal norms on the taboo subject. Her lonesome life with her step-mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) has suited her well, but she gets a reality kick to the lady parts when her soon-to-be step brother Bob (Tim Heidecker) moves in after being released from an addiction facility.

After Erica offers to blow Bob to ingratiate herself into his oft-panicking self, the pair eventually develop a “normal” relationship without ludicrous sexual favor offerings. We learn that Bob’s mental health struggles trail back to a teacher that he claims molested him. That teacher is Will Jordan (Adam Scott), who also is the older man that Erica has been pining after at their local bowling alley.

In an effort to try and help Bob, Erica hatches up a plan to get the truth out of Will. It becomes complicated when she starts to sink into the lustful feelings she has, and so more drastic measures are taken. Let’s just say that when roofies become part of the equation, it is not a winning formula.

Flower goes off the rails in the final 20 minutes. There is a dead body. There is a rushed attempt at emotional payoff, and there there is an even zanier portion that avid porn watchers of the 2020s will possibly get a kick out of. It is as if the writing crew of Alex McAulay, Matt Spicer and Max Winkler forgot to finish the script, where walking into the studio, realized they forgot the ending, then scribbled in the craziest shit with less than a seconds thought. Who pushed the fast forward button??

The first movie I think of when I think of Zoey Deutch is Set It Up (2018), which is one of, if not the best original romantic comedy that Netflix has put out. After that she showed in as Madison in Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) and this year she is in the well received Peacock film The Outfit (2022). Flower is before all those better-known movies, and there are some learning pains as you watch. The character of Erica Vandross is fairly one dimensional in Flower; you know the persona she is going to play, and her only weak spot is the relationship with her father, which is not touched on enough to make an impact.

I really like the potential that Deutch has. She has a certain je ne sais quoi. It may be that I just find her very cute, but it is also the her ability to have the childish voice but maintain a bit of depth. The movie that I have liked her least in was Zombieland: Double Tap, and that was when she was at her most dumb. I am buys stock in Deutch’s career. Samara Weaving and Deutch, two actresses that have investment in going forward.

Isn’t there some saying that the journey is more important than the destination? Flower falls into that puddle. There are plenty of interesting twists and turns within the story, but the end of the maze is a dead end in terms of satisfaction. Watch Flower for the fun scenes where Deutch shines brightest, but don’t be surprised if your attention is driven elsewhere for extended moments near the film’s conclusion.

STANKO RATING: C (2.5/5 Stars)

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