American Gun (2005)

"Good"

American Gun (2005) Review


Columbine was only seven years ago and already I'm sick to death of movies inspired by it. I don't mean to be insensitive, but seriously. How many movies can be made about American gun culture? When mixed with hormonal and impressionable kids, nothing good can happen, and tragedies occur. This we understand.

The good news is that Aric Avelino has at least one brilliant spin on the tale in the ensemble piece American Gun, which tracks a handful of characters in the wake of a Columbinian tragedy. The brilliance? Making one of the main characters the single mother of the (now deceased) shooter. Now trying to cope in the same community, and trying to raise another son with less violent tendencies, she doesn't have the cash to leave and, as expected, finds himself surrounded by hate. Played by Marcia Gay Harden, the addled mother is trying to figure out how her son could have done such a thing, while facing the exact same question from the people that surround her. It's the highlight of the film, a searing portrait of humanity and society at its worst.

The rest of the movie doesn't hold up as well, unfortunately. The gaggle of stories are largely unconnected and largely forgettable, including the inner-city high school principal (Forest Whitaker) trying to make his school safe, a gun dealer (Donald Sutherland) who isn't the monster we expect, and of course a whole bunch of students wrestling with more violence, guns under control or not. The performances are all on target and earnest, which is completely in keeping with a message movie like this. Nobody wants any more kids to get shot, so everyone gives it their all on camera. Nothing wrong with that.

It's too bad then that Steven Bagatourian's script takes too many shortcuts and easy-outs in exploring the issue. There's the black family wrestling with gang violence, a date rape scenario, and way too many scenes of highschool cliques. Much of the film comes off as hackneyed and dull, even though it looks good on screen and the production values are perfect, rare for a first-timer.

Much of this can be overlooked for Harden's performance as well as Chris Marquette, who plays her seriously messed up son. Together they prove that it's the small things that can make a movie worth watching, even if it's a road we've been down too many times already.

DVD extras include a making-of featurette.

Who wants to go do some archery after school?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Aric Avelino

Producer: Rebecca Casey, Robert Collins, Kevin Harvey, Ted Kroeber

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.