Growing Op was a NetFlix recommendation. It stars Steven Yaffee (the world champion Tobey Maguire lookalike) as Quinn, the horticultural home-schooled son of a pair of neo-hippie parents (Wallace Langham and Rosanna Arquette) who run a pot farm from their suburban cookie-cutter ticky-tacky house. Imagine it as Weeds, but with a father for the yoots to look up to, and the mother doesn’t burn down the house.
Spoilers follow, you’ve been warned.
Quinn, being home-schooled by parents who would go to prison if caught, is portrayed as having no social life. Aside from the fact that all the home-schooled kids I know are normal in terms of social life, this sets up his desire for interaction with his peers. When new neighbors move in, he meets Crystal (Rachel Blanchard) who takes a liking to him. Quinn decides to enroll in the local high school against his parents wishers, to pursue her romantically.
His worldview is destroyed on first contact with reality when he discovers that high school has (gasp!) bullies and social cliques, both of which are conspiring (in a literal sense) to interfere with his pursuit of Crystal. He manages to get her interest, however, and they go to a party. The social cliques and bad luck converge in a highly embarrassing moment with his sister Hope (Katie Boland, who bears a remarkable resemblance in attitude to my sister-in-law) which jeopardizes his relation with Crystal.
Things get patched together, however, and they go on to learn new tidbits about themselves and about each other. The movie wraps up about twenty minutes before it ends, or so we’re led to believe. The writers threw in a twist that I didn’t see coming, a twist on the same scale as The Usual Suspects. I greatly appreciated this, as otherwise it would have only rated 4-5 stars out of 10 for predictability. I gave it a 7 out of 10 at IMDB, knocking it down mostly for believability (aside from the stereotype of homeschooled kids as isolated, there were a few scenes where credulity was begged), but give it points for the humorous look at teenage life, accurate portrayal of the exaggerated teenage angst most of us deny having in our youth, and use of select libertarian touchstones. It’s cute, and entertaining, worth a couple hours on an otherwise boring evening at home.