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Originally published Friday, October 6, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Love is the Drug": Dangerous attraction to "in" crowd

The out-of-control teenager story has been told many times before and in more evocative ways than the treatment portrayed in "Love is the...

Special to The Seattle Times

The out-of-control teenager story has been told many times before and in more evocative ways than the treatment portrayed in "Love is the Drug." Even so, this small, earnest and generally well-acted movie infuses a horrifying sense of realism in the sexual and drug-fueled behavior of kids who believe they are mature beyond their years.

Forlorn, uncool Jonah (John Patrick Amedori) wants in on a pampered clique of pretty rich kids. It's hard to imagine why; these are some of the most vile, self-centered people in his universe. Yet, such is the teen mentality of wannabe cool, especially when Jonah develops an obsessive crush on Sara (Lizzy Caplan).

Movie review 2 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Love is the Drug," with John Patrick Amedori, Lizzy Caplan, D.J. Cotrona, Jenny Wade, Jonathon Trent, Daryl Hannah. Directed by Elliott Lester, from a screenplay by Steve Allison and Wesley Strick. 96 minutes. Rated R for pervasive drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexual content and an act of violence — all involving teens. Several theaters.

One night, Jonah crashes a party, where he's alternately ignored or ridiculed — until he lets slip that he works in a pharmacy, that is. The two jerk ringleaders — Lucas (D.J. Cotrona) and Sara's marginal boyfriend, Troy (Jonathon Trent) — start pretending to include him as a way of getting him to lift whatever pharmaceuticals he can. Seeing this as an in to get to Sara, he's soon dipping into the doses of painkillers, tranquilizers and other controlled substances he delivers for his kindly pharmacist boss.

It's almost impossible to identify with any of these kids, even Jonah, whose motives seem so worthless and whose behavior turns so unpleasantly erratic. He might not have done it on purpose, but pretty soon he's gotten Troy out of the picture and his unhealthy fixation on Sara rises to a new level.

The few adults in the movie provide an undersized anchor to what the real world should be like for teenagers. Jonah's single mother is played by an at-her-wit's-end Daryl Hannah, who is unable to comprehend, much less control, the mysterious change in her son's actions. Another small, solid adult role comes alive in the hands of Bruce A. Young as a private investigator asking questions the police won't about a suspicious death.

Unfortunately, in the end, this probably all-too-real world simply comes unhinged. Lives are forever turned around, none for the better.

Ted Fry:

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