Rating: Rated "R"
There are a number of coming-of-age films recently hitting the multiplex screens because there are a number of kids coming of age. What their mental years of today would be I can only guess, but some 25 years ago they would be mid-17, so-called young adults.
Thatís what makes "Outside Providence" so interesting. It supposedly takes place back in the 1970s and concerns some kids from what at that time would have been termed "coming from the wrong side of the tracks" and today would be "culturally disadvantaged." The problem is that if you moved the 70s kids to 1999, today they would be blessed with all the mental advantages because they wouldnít be snowed under by the sheer volume of toys, clothes, and things that the kids of today must shed before their minds begin to grow.
Some critics have been dismayed by the film because they are too young to remember the mid-70s, and usually sport university backgrounds and are thus unable to even imagine what it was like to be the son of a factory worker, living in the back waters of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with a father who swills beer, works hard, and whose existence highpoint is a game of poker with his buddies, all of his social class.
The kidís name is Timothy Dunphy, his mother has died some years before from depression, and his kid brother is in a wheelchair. Dad (artfully played by Alec Baldwin with a pronounced five oíclock shadow and a down-on-the-loading-docks accent) wants his kid to have a better chance at life than he did. So Tim is sent off to a fancy New England Prep School on a scholarship.
Here we meet the old bell-shaped curve in action: A few of the kids are smart and savvy and understanding, a few are out-and-out jerks, and most are combinations of the above. And Tim is forced to grow up and face a life that will not always be kind and gentle. And because itís the movies, he does.
While not a great flick by any means, "Outside Providence" is entertaining, well-done, and while not bringing us a new view of the real world, certainly tries to show a different interpretation.