In the late '90s, Blake Nelson's debut novel, Girl, was turned into a feature film starring Dominique Swain. While the adaptation can be strangely addictive for its utter badness, it was a far cry from its source material -- the grunge, the feeling, the spark were all sapped from it and what remained was a goofy tale about a girl trying to be cool to get the guy. (Although it was one of the only films I liked Tara Reid in.) Gus Van Sant did not have this problem bringing the next adapted Nelson novel, Paranoid Park, to the big screen. The director understands the kids of Nelson's Portland, and they're every bit as grungy and real as you could imagine. Unfortunately, that's just about all the film has going for it.
This adaptation was so bland on the big screen that I actually found myself itching for Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Like Girl, this is a tale of suburban kids looking to shed their comfortable, middle-class living for some street-class cred. Where Andrea visited clubs and wore cow dresses, Alex (Gabe Nevins) heads to the local skateboard park, nicknamed Paranoid Park, with his friend. Alex is mesmerized by rolling skateboarders, but feels he isn't good enough to participate. One night, he goes back on his own and befriends some kids who say they live there. Then, time jumps forward and backward to tell Alex's story. During an interview with a police detective, we learn that a security guard who was found dead near the park might have been murdered. From Alex's actions, it is obvious that he knows something about this crime, and Van Sant ties the strings together slowly.