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With: Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, Michael Shannon, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Aimee Mullins, Andy McPhee, Alex McGregor, Robert Hobbs
Written by: Jake Paltrow
Directed by: Jake Paltrow
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/17/2014

Young Ones (2014)

2 Stars (out of 4)

A Drip

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With Young Ones, writer/director Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth's brother) comes up with an intriguing setting, a futuristic farmland in which water becomes the top commodity. Details include government-issued food packs and washing dishes with dirt. Like the superior Then Road Warrior and The Rover, it's not so far out that it seems irrelevant. However, into this backdrop he plunks the tired old crime story of the interloping stranger who fools almost everyone with his deceptive charms, and has nothing fresh to add to it.

In the future, water is extremely scarce, and a farming family led by Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) struggles to survive. He makes a living delivering supplies to the men that work for a huge company, and are routing water to bigger, corporate farms. He tries to strike a deal, but fails. Meanwhile, his daughter Mary (Elle Fanning) is secretly seeing Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult); Flem has more ambitious plans that include stealing the family's robotic mule, and could even involve murder. It falls to Ernest's son Jerome (Kodi Smit McPhee) to discover the truth and set things right.

The balance is all off. The Flem Lever character seems villainous at all times, thereby making the Mary character unsympathetic. (She's too short-sighted to see through him.) Then the Jerome character becomes far too crafty far too quickly. A would-be romance is added and forgotten, and the fascination with the robot donkey never really pays off. Perhaps worst of all, there's no real connection between the characters' interactions and the futuristic setting. What happens to them has little to do with water. Overall, Young Ones is a bit of a drip.

Note: Not to be confused with the great 1980s British TV series, The Young Ones.

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