Zo Kravitz and Ezra Miller in "Beware the Gonzo." (Sophia Zahariou, Tribeca…)
In "Beware the Gonzo" an aspiring high-school muckraker gets kicked off the official school newspaper and so he starts his own underground publication, enlisting fellow outsiders and underdogs to rail against the jocks and popular kids and the administration that keeps the social hierarchies in place.
Although the kids are savvy about incorporating a Web component alongside their print product, there is something sweetly retro about high-schoolers even thinking to put out an actual physical newspaper, like preferring vinyl to MP3s.
Young actor Ezra Miller, who was very good playing the troubled teen in "Afterschool" and wildly unnerving in the upcoming "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is here not given the tools to reach those same heights; his character, for being the center of the film, always comes across as narrowly drawn and a bit flat. Zoë Kravitz, seen recently in "X-Men: First Class" feels likewise underused.
Supporting turns by Amy Sedaris, Campbell Scott, James Urbaniak and Judah Friedlander are all functional if unexceptional, with Sedaris and Scott as the parents of Miller's character seeming to be a particularly missed opportunity.
The directing debut for screenwriter Bryan Goluboff, "Beware the Gonzo" isn't bad, it's just that for a film aiming to celebrate media rebellion it feels timid and unadventurous. Not quite the caustic take on the teen flick it might aim to be, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, the granddaddy of gonzo, the film never gets weird enough.
"Beware the Gonzo." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.