Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , ,
  • Summary: Shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts) is the class virgin—a popular soccer player and frequent babysitter for her single-dad coach, Mr. B. (James Franco). Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is an introspective artist whose best friend and sidekick Fred (Nat Wolff) is an unpredictable live wire with few filters or boundaries. While April negotiates a dangerous affair with Mr. B., and Teddy performs community service for a DUI—secretly carrying a torch for April, who may or may not share his affection—Fred seduces Emily (Zoe Levin), a promiscuous loner who seeks validation through sexual encounters. One high-school party bleeds into another as April and Teddy finally acknowledge their mutual affection, and Fred's escalating recklessness spirals into chaos. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    May 6, 2014
    The movie perfectly captures the vibe of late high school, in a way that's both of its time and timeless.
  2. Reviewed by: Alonso Duralde
    May 8, 2014
    Coppola doesn't let these kids off the hook for their stupid decisions, of which they make many, but she's not judging them for their folly, either. Unchecked privilege and clueless parents are trotted out as part of the problem, but Coppola seems more interested in exploring human frailty and vulnerability than she is in digging for a social statement.
  3. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 8, 2014
    A delicate tapestry of suburban gothic, romance and realism, with a surprising sweetness at its core and a wonderful star performance from Emma Roberts.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 29, 2014
    The story has something of a flow, but the film feels more like someone dropping in on the characters' lives. It's more about observation than connecting dots. This isn't a detriment, particularly with strong performances to carry things along.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    May 28, 2014
    As lovely as it sometimes is, what this film needs is a little more shape and a little less ambience.
  6. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    May 10, 2014
    Fortunately Coppola’s sensitivity is always evident, especially in the open-hearted performances she gets from Roberts and Kilmer (whose father, Val, has a funny, pot-addled cameo).
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    May 4, 2014
    Mr. Franco must have had a very boring adolescence, because Palo Alto is a very boring movie.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. May 18, 2014
    I didn't love it while watching, but after letting it sit for awhile, I decided that I really, really enjoyed this movie. It's a lot like a Sofia Coppola movie-somewhat plotless, but Gia Coppola does a good job and it comes together. She uses a lot of scenes as vignettes of sorts, and towards the end I could generally see the themes it was attempting to convey. The plot is really not what won me over though, the way this was shot and the elegant soundtrack are awesome, but the acting! Damn. Jack Kilmer and Nat Wolff are great, especially Wolff's cynical, douchey character. Emma Roberts and James Franco were great and equally convincing as well. It's really kept me thinking about it since I left the theater, and for that it earns my respect. It's not a movie for everyone though and on a purely plot basis, it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from other teenage flicks. But still, everything else adds up to a really fantastic debut for Gia Coppola. Expand
  2. May 31, 2014
    Based on short stories by James Franco, this film randomly follows 3 teens (Emma Roberts, Nat Wolff & Jack Kilmer) as they drink, smoke, have sex and wander thru their adolescence. The story is as aimless as their lives. There's no real structure, just scenes of wasted (literally) youth. The only major adult character is Franco who plays an inappropriate coach, Even with though it feels like an MTV reality show, the young actors impressively create natural and complex characters and director Gia Coppola has an ability (like her aunt Sophia) to capture quiet observations and create compelling situations. Look for Jack's dad Val and Gia's great aunt Talia Shire (as the guidance counselor) in cameos. Expand
  3. May 11, 2014
    At the outset of the film, I was highly fearful that the director would be satisfied to tread on well-worn territory, sticking to the same old cliches that every other teen movie trots out. (The party, "Never Have I Ever", Old dude wants to hook up with young girl). But something about the look of the shots, the soundtrack, and the fresh acting talent (especially Val Kilmer's kid as the lead actor) won me over. If you didn't want kids before, you won't want kids after seeing this film - but if you're a horny kid yourself? Check it out. Expand
  4. Sep 11, 2014
    A film that does a good job at showing the potential real life of a teenager, but struggles to get a good feel for the characters. Their is definitely a feel of realism coming from these teens and for the most part the film doesn't hold back, but after a while I started to wonder how much I cared. All in all it's a mild recommendation. B- Expand
  5. May 11, 2014
    I wouldn't say the movie was boring, but it was definitely themeless, or at least seemed so to me. The characters were solid enough to lead the narrative, but the the story as a whole was quite disconnected. Expand
  6. Aug 8, 2014
    you need special skill to make a unwatchable movie with Emma Roberts in,Eureka they just did it .
    This is so boring and unbearable.Another
    proof that James franco not suited for lead actor role. Expand