According to Greta On DVD
by Laura Tucker
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I started out thinking of one teen in particular that I thought could benefit from seeing According to Greta, and by the time the movie was finished, I thought maybe every teen … and parent of a teen … could benefit. They need to see that everyone has their different foibles. What separates us is how we deal with them.
Greta (Hilary Duff) is sent to the New Jersey shore to stay with her grandparents (Ellen Burstyn and Michael Murphy) for the summer, because her mother is trying to save her marriage, her third, and Greta is just too much to handle at the same time. When she arrives, Greta informs her grandparents that she is making a list of different ways she could kill herself, as well as a list of things she wants to do before she dies. She’s told that under their roof, she’ll have certain rules to follow; it won’t be like living at home, but it doesn’t have much of an impact on her.
After a day at the beach alone, Greta wanders into a seafood restaurant and gets a job as a waitress, or rather she informs the owner of the restaurant that she’ll be working for him. She also meets the cook at the restaurant, Julie (Evan Ross), and invites him to lunch at her grandparents house, but the invite has more to do who he is an where he comes from – an African-American who did time in juvie for carjacking – than it does wanting her grandparents to approve of him.
Greta shares her book of ways to die and what she wants to do before it happens with Julie, and once he learns of a tragic family secret, he seems to be the only one that can figure Greta out. He saw enough things in juvie to know what she needs and doesn’t need. The question is if he’s the one that can finally get through to her.
All kids go through something like this. They all have a tragic family secret here or there, and they all struggle with self worth. The only difference is how they deal with it. Greta prefers to deal with it by being obstinate and angry, and by shocking everyone before they can have a chance to hurt her. That’s the beauty in the casting, having a well-liked young actress play such a tortured young girl, so that young people can see that everyone has those types of feelings. And what makes it truly great is that Duff has the acting chops to pull off the role, even when she’s facing off against Ellen Burstyn.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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