Runtime: 90 minutes
Writer/Director: Kelly Oxfrod
Stars: Jessica Barden, Henry Winkler, Mary J. Blige, Lewis Pullman, Michael McKean, Marcia Gay Hardin, Odeya Rush, Rosa Salazar
Every few years we have our teen coming of age stories. The 70’s gave us “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, the 80’s was definitely the decade of teen films with ‘The Breakfast Club’ and every single John Hughes film, the 90’s gave us ‘Clueless‘; early 2000’s we went a little different with ‘Mean Girls’, and the most recent of the mid-2000’s gave us ‘Booksmart’ in 2019. So it’s no surprise we were in need of a new one, and writer/director Kelly Oxford delivers to us “PINK SKIES AHEAD”, just in time.
While is might be a 2021 release, ‘Pink Skies Ahead’ is set in Los Angeles in 1998, and is loosely based on events from Director Oxford’s life from when she was nineteen at the time. The film itself follows Winona (Jessica Barden), who after dropping out of college, moves back home to live with her parents in the San Fernando Valley. The blue-haired Winona is a bit of a hypochondriac, though still insists on seeing her childhood pediatrician only, one Dr, Cotton (Henry Winkler), who diagnoses her with an anxiety disorder. While she is completely skeptical of Dr. Cotton’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all — she does reluctantly agree to see the referred therapist, Dr. Monroe (Mary J. Blige). And then Winona just simplies carries right on with her wild, partying lifestyle and even though things begin to slowly unravel around her, it still takes a lot to face her truths.
There are sub-plots about meeting and dating a nice but boring boyfriend Ben (Lewis Pullman), that doesn’t go the way we expect, a possible affair she suspects her father Richard (Michael McKean) of having, and difficulties in trying to forge a relationship with her mom Pamela (Marcia Gay Harden). Mostly all of this is due to the fact that having had her at a late age, they want to sell their home and ‘downsize’ to a Westside apartment – without Winona in the picture. She also parties hard with her two best friends, one being compulsive shoplifter Stephanie (Odeya Rush), the other is Addie (Rosa Salazar), and both believe that Winona has the potential to be a writer, but are also baffled that she can’t even pass her driver’s test to get a license. And there is so much more leading into what makes this film a bit different than most teen drama’s, the mental health battle. With scenes that involve job interviews which range from flirtatious to disastrous, we follow Winona’s journey though it all and most of it, you should watch and discover on your own, as it’s a journey worth taking.
While it has it’s flaws, the acting is tight and well done, and at a light 90 minutes, you wonder if the film is going to hit all the marks before time runs out – luckily it does by making Winona’s step forward with the projected happy ending, versus somewhere in than the middle and it’s a good choice for the films ending as after all, the title is Pink Skies Ahead…
Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ 42West PR
“PINK SKIES AHEAD” is debuting on MTV Saturday, May 8, 2021 / will follow with a Blu-ray/DVD release