Belly rings bad news for 13-year-olds

One of 2003’s most notable breakthrough performances came from Evan Rachel Wood in this intense look at female adolescence. Shunned at school for her goofy wardrobe, Tracy (Wood) befriends Evie (Nikki Reed, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Catherine Hardwicke). Evie is the most popular girl at school, and she’s also a little too advanced for her age. Tracy gets caught up in a world of drugs, sex and teen pastimes like punching each other in the face for fun (Actually, I don’t recall that one from my childhood). The first time I saw this film I found it a little too frantic, and Tracy’s transition from model student to hell-bent rebel seemed a little too fast. The film plays better upon a second viewing. Wood is terrific in the central role, as is Holly Hunter as her beleaguered mother. Severely underrated actor Jeremy Sisto lends a hand in the supporting role of Mom’s boyfriend, and has a cool moment with a Zen chicken. Love that use of the Liz Phair song at film’s end. There should be more Liz Phair songs ending movies.

Special Features: Some of the participants in the disc’s commentary (Hardwicke, Wood, Reed, actor Brady Corbet) are obviously having fun with the concept, as evidenced by their occasional screaming and talking over one another. Hardwicke does provide some decent insights into the film, including some backdrop as to how she and Reed conceived the script. A making-of featurette is pretty routine, but the deleted scenes are definitely worth a glance.

Movie: B

Special Features: B-

Geek Factor: 5