Picks and Pans Review: The Wild Life

updated 11/19/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/19/1984 01:00AM

Meanwhile back at the campus another troupe of trendy adolescents is trying to deal with trendy adolescent problems. This teenage school comedy at least has a look and feel different from those of other films of the Animal House genre. The intriguing lead characters are young Eric Stoltz, who gets his first taste of life after high school by moving into an apartment with an improbable roomie, Christopher (Footloose) Penn, a bleached-blond high school wrestler. Stoltz underplays the frustrated nerd opposite Penn, who is a solid challenger to brother Sean as a teen heartthrob. Penn knocks heads with his buddies when he's happy and shrugs off life's lesser moments with a breezy "It's casual." Lea (Red Dawn) Thompson and Jenny (The World According to Garp) Wright are haplessly harried as the estranged girlfriends of the duo, and Man (Daniel) Mitchell-Smith rounds out the core cast as a mischievous 15-year-old obsessed with the '60s. Screenwriter Cameron Crowe, who wrote the slicker if more frivolous Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and director Art Linson, who produced Fast Times and directed Where the Buffalo Roam, barely scratch the surface of the ideas they touch upon. There are the usual teenage high jinks, the raucously destructive climactic party scene and the obligatory pop sound track. But Crowe and Linson seem to be striving for something semiserious, and their film never finds its focus. (R)

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