An unlikely friendship springs up between a frumpy, middle-aged haberdasher (Albert Brooks) and a smart-ass goth teenager (Leelee Sobieski). Written by Jill Franklyn and rather loosely directed by Christine Lahti, the film bears a thematic resemblance to Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World
, but this time it’s tailored to audiences identifying more with the older man than with the teenager. Both films share the virtue of excellent acting; Sobieski responds to Brooks’ mordancy while he responds to her playfulness. The story resorts to melodrama toward the end—hardly needed with such real characters and good performances. Anyhow, no great harm done; Brooks and Sobieski shine throughout. The supporting cast includes Mary Kay Place as Brooks’ friend, and Carol Kane and an uncredited John Goodman as Sobieski’s parents.