A pleasant, understated, slightly John Hughes-ish teen dramaedy, "Try Seventeen" somehow is making its debut on the small screen, despite the presence of "Lord of the Rings" star Elijah Wood and some enjoyable characters and dialogue. It's nothing to write home about, but it's an improvement over most fare set out for the target audience.
Wood plays Jones Dillon, a 17-year-old who is just heading out to college in the Midwest. It's not too long after that Jones decides to drop out of college and become a writer. He leaves his dorm room and finds himself in an old boarding house on the outside of town. Of course, there's a cast of colorful characters in his midst, including a cowboy on the first floor, a struggling actress (Mandy Moore) and a photographer (Franka Potente, "Bourne Identity").
Of course, one can probably see where this is going just from the plot; Jones has romantic entanglements with both of the women he's neighbors with, learns more about himself and proceeds with his life with new clarity. Well, not exactly - but that's awfully close. Still, the writing and performances are what make the film work as well as it does. Wood plays awkward quite superbly (although a few instances of his narration don't work & weren't needed), while Moore is lovely and engaging in a supporting role. Potente is as good as she always is, although it's interesting that, despite the fact that Wood has more chemistry with Moore, it's Potente and Wood who reportedly became an item on-set.
Although certainly a more complex, dramatic and better film than this one, I found "All I Want" satisfying in a similar way to David Gordon Green's "All The Real Girls". Both films don't manufacture forced crisis after crisis; we simply follow characters on their way, finding out more about each other and themselves. Problems develop along the way, but they build up and are dealt in a realistic (well, uh, aside from this film's fantasy sequences), down-to-earth way that's not often seen in movies. Maybe not a lot goes on at times in either film, but that seems to make the "moments" that happen in each all the more special, or heartbreaking.
Note: The film was also known as "Try Seventeen".
VIDEO: "All I Want" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is merely average. Sharpness and detail are good enough, as the picture boasts a fair level of definition, but still can appear a little hazy at times. Aside from the softness, there weren't too many other problems, though. The picture did show a couple of minor specks on the print and a touch or two of edge enhancement, but neither became much of an issue. Colors looked fine, appearing natural and fairly well-rendered. Flesh tones seemed a little off - too pinkish - at times.
SOUND: "All I Want" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack, for a little drama/comedy, was actually fairly decent. The film's score, which sets the mood quite nicely, is presented well and reinforced lightly by the surrounds. Although the rear speakers didn't get that much of a workout, there were some instances where they did a decent job providing light ambience and some more noticable sound effects. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue remained clean and clear.
EXTRAS: Trailers for "All I Want", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "The Debut" and "Gigli".
Final Thoughts: This was a perfectly pleasant, well-acted and very enjoyable little drama, helped along by fine performances and well-developed characters. Columbia/Tristar's bare-bones DVD isn't what the film deserves, but the movie is still certainly worth a rental.