Pull up a log, pass the shrooms, and get ready to come face-to-face with your future in the fanciful and heartfelt Sundance comedy *My Old Ass*. Directed by Megan Park in her sophomore feature after the acclaimed school shooting drama *The Fallout*, this funny yet thoughtful film follows 18-year-old Elliott (Maisy Stella) over one pivotal summer before leaving her small Canadian hometown for college.
After indulging in some psychedelic mushrooms with her best friends, Elliott inexplicably encounters her 39-year-old self (a perfectly cast Aubrey Plaza), who dishes out nuggets of wisdom to appreciate this fleeting phase of youth while it lasts. Back in sober reality, Elliott tries bonding more with her quirky younger brothers and cranberry farmer parents, while also sparking an unlikely connection with a lanky seasonal farmhand named Chad (Percy Hynes White)—the very guy her older self warned her away from.
As Elliott questions her identity and relationships against the bittersweet backdrop of her last days at the lake she grew up loving, Park crafts a film that’s humorous yet wistful, fantastical yet emotionally authentic. Anchored by Stella’s infectious screen presence and endearing performances across the board, *My Old Ass* promises to be a crowd-pleasing entry in the coming-of-age canon.
Bittersweet Last Days of Summer Marked by Fantasy Mentorship
At its core, *My Old Ass* depicts that transitory period when adolescents stand on the precipice of adulthood, not yet ready to leave their carefree days behind but eager to spread their wings. Elliott fits the bill, counting down to moving away for college while mostly blowing off her family to party with friends. In a clever twist, her future self materializes as a result of her shroom trip, prodding Elliott to soak up these last precious weeks at home.
Through their supernatural cross-generational bond, the film explores the tension between clinging to the familiar versus seeking out new horizons. Older Elliott looks back wistfully but doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges ahead, urging her younger self to appreciate what she has now. Beyond seizing the summer, she encourages Elliott to strengthen connections with family and friends whom she’ll soon miss.
These relationships fuel much of the nostalgic power, especially Elliott’s interactions with her eccentric younger brothers and loving mother. Parental bonds stretch but don’t break as the kids eventually leave the nest. Park affectionately depicts this bittersweet transition marked by the persistent flow of time.
Elliott also questions her sexual identity when developing feelings for Chad, despite only dating girls thus far. But the film doesn’t portray this as some seismic shift, just youthful openness to follow the heart.
While the mushroom fantasy fuels the setup, grounded emotion anchors the landing. Park crafts a humorous yet wistful coming-of-age tale that resonates across generations, urging us all to appreciate the fleeting moments.
Winning Lead Turns and Ensemble Chemistry Bring the Story to Life
Rising star Maisy Stella carries *My Old Ass* with an infectious screen presence well beyond her years. As Elliott, she embodies that restless spirit on the cusp of adulthood, conveying both her careless rebellion and underlying sensitivity. Stella’s magnetic charm and emotional range make Elliott come alive in all her frustrating yet lovable glory.
Newcomer Percy Hynes White nearly steals the show as Elliott’s summer crush Chad, radiating offbeat appeal with his gangly awkwardness. Together with Stella, their flirtatious chemistry lights up the screen. You can’t help but root for this odd couple, even knowing one possible disastrous future.
In a tricky dual role, Aubrey Plaza leans on her trademark deadpan snark as Older Elliott, tossing clever barbs at her young counterpart. But she also reveals impressive dramatic depth in pivotal late scenes, pivotally grounding the film’s fantasy premise in raw human emotion.
The talented supporting cast further strengthen bonds between Elliott and her family that give the story its nostalgic heart. Maria Dizzia continues to impress as Elliott’s mother, wonderfully conveying that push-pull between letting your kids go while wishing you could keep them close forever.
From Elliott’s wacky younger brothers to her inner circle of lifelong friends, Park populates her film with authentic, dimensional characters. Together, the skilled ensemble cast and the completely winning lead duo of Stella and White make *My Old Ass* delightful company for the summer.
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Skilled Direction and Dreamy Backdrop Immerse Us in Nostalgia
In only her sophomore feature, writer-director Megan Park confirms her artistic voice with polished technical execution. Just as in her first film *The Fallout*, Park demonstrates a keen ear for organic teen dialogue and a knack for eliciting naturalistic performances. Her deft direction translates the script’s high-concept fantasy into emotional realism.
Park’s background as an actress surely informs her ability to guide actors. She draws out the infectious energy of youth from leads Maisy Stella and Percy Hynes White while seamlessly incorporating an elder stateswoman in Aubrey Plaza. Well-cast supporting players likewise feel authentic.
Beyond performances, Park infuses the film with nostalgia through lyrical cinematography. The hazy golden aesthetic and lush woodland landscapes almost act as another character. The remote lake community setting emphasizing the separateness of this adolescent bubble before adult realities set in.
The camerawork maintains intimacy with handheld focus on relationships, whether Elliott goofing with pals or sharing a heart-to-heart with family. At the same time, sweeping drone shots of the water instill scenic grandeur. The harmony of closeups and panoramas makes the location sing.
Through her balanced directorial choices, Park constructs a cinematic experience at once dreamlike and emotionally truthful. From indie breakout to potential mainstream success story, her growing talent merits watching.
Heartfelt Story and Performances Outweigh Minor Flaws
While mostly garnering positive reviews, *My Old Ass* hasn’t been immune to critiques. Some point to plot oddities in the film’s fantasy device, questioning the hazy rules of how or why Elliott connects with her older self. The contrivance risks undermining the emotional authenticity. Additionally, certain relationships might have benefited from more screen time to deepen bonds that provide the sentimental core.
However, the sheer charm of the performances helps gloss over those nitpicks. From its crowdpleasing premiere at Sundance, critics agree the movie succeeds thanks largely to the irresistible lead duo of Maisy Stella and Percy Hynes White. Their star quality and breezy chemistry make it easy to invest in Elliott’s journey. Plaza’s gravitas in the title role enhanced the concept’s credibility.
Many reviewers also concur that writer-director Megan Park continues to exhibit maturity and skill beyond her years. She proves adept at smoothly incorporating difficult themes about sexual fluidity and emotional transitions that could have felt forced. While not reinventing the coming-of-age wheel, Park breathes fresh life into the genre with humor and heart.
The ending earns particular praise for earning its emotional catharsis. Despite telegraphed twists, the climax touches a universal chord about passing time that resonated with prerelease audiences. Some predict the bittersweet denouement will become iconic in young adult cinema.
Flourishes like lush cinematography and an evocative soundtrack reinforce the wistful tone. The strengths outweigh shallow plotting to potentially make *My Old Ass* a coming-of-age classic. More crucially, its universal appeal signals a mainstream breakout for Park.
Feel-Good Charmer Poised to Become Next Sundance Breakout
Boasting glowing reviews out of its Sundance premiere, *My Old Ass* seems well on its way to joining the park city film festival’s pantheon of indie darlings turning mainstream breakouts. Propelled by the equally irresistible lead duo of Maisy Stella and Percy Hynes White, director Megan Park looks to follow in the footsteps of past Sundance launching pads like *Little Miss Sunshine*.
What makes the film stand out is its rare blend of quirky humor, fantasy wish-fulfilment, and emotional authenticity. Park skillfully balances the high-concept premise with the relatable coming-of-age themes. The performances ground the material in an endearing realism that tugs at the heartstrings.
The film may have occasional plot contrivances, but its compassion and wisdom ultimately outweigh the flaws. *My Old Ass* joins the ranks of festival hits about seizing life’s transient moments like *Sing Street* and *Adventureland*. Look for it to similarly charm audiences seeking laughter through tears when it releases later this year. If the crowd reactions hold, we may be remembering Elliott’s journey right alongside iconic Sundance protagonists for years to come.
My Old Ass
Boasting infectious humor and poignancy, Megan Park’s sophomore dramedy feels both nostalgic and current in sensitively capturing that fraught transition between carefree youth and looming adulthood. Backed by stellar chemistry from irresistible rising stars Maisy Stella and Percy Hynes White along with a soulful Aubrey Plaza, My Old Ass announces Park as a promising major directorial talent while telling a timeless coming-of-age story.
- Winning lead and supporting performances
- Great chemistry between young leads
- Confident direction and technical execution
- Beautiful, nostalgic setting
- Humorous high concept premise
- Emotionally resonant coming-of-age themes
- Some plot contrivances in fantasy device
- Could have developed certain relationships more
- Occasional rushed pacing