Ben Stiller: England has precocious intellectuals too!

After the jump, it’s the newly-released trailer for Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, “presented by Ben Stiller and The Weinstein Company.”  What does “presented by” mean, exactly?  I believe it’s what happens when a name actor/director who isn’t involved with the production of a film nonetheless likes it enough to put his or her name on it, much like Beyoncé when she puts rings on things. Anyway, Submarine is a quirky, indie, youth romance dramedy (BUZZWORDS! PORTMANTEAUS!) that everyone seems to love.  Like, literally everyone.  It’s currently tracking 100% on RottenTomatoes, based on 32 reviews.   It opens June 3rd in the US, but it looks like a tough sell to me, and I say this as someone who will defend Rushmore, Youth in Revolt, or Scott Pilgrim to the death (or at least to the wrestling match).  Even I’m getting a little tired of repressed, articulate, precocious, intellectual youths.  Especially ones getting laid all the time.  What, did I not wear enough ugly suits?  F*ck.

Meet Oliver Tate, a precocious 15-year-old whose worldview is exceedingly clever and largely delusional (he imagines the outpouring of grief that would spread through Wales if he died). Oliver carries a briefcase, doesn’t agree with everything Nietzsche said but concedes that he had some interesting points, peruses the dictionary for new words (flagitious, adj, wickedly shameful), and suspects his mother of having an affair with their New Age neighbor. But foremost on Oliver’s mind is finding a girlfriend. Enter Jordana Bevan. Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s wry novel and bolstered by aesthetic wit, fabulous performances, and a clever score by Andrew Hewitt (with songs by Alex Turner), SUBMARINE evokes the spontaneity and breezy cinematic cool of the French New Wave. Director Richard Ayoade (star, “The IT Crowd,” “The Mighty Boosh”) sidesteps coming-of-age clichés to explore a kid who’s too self-absorbed to realize that to know somebody, you first have to remove yourself from the center of the universe.

I don’t doubt that this will be good like everyone says, but I’ve noticed a disturbing trend these days where people only seem to recognize a movie as smart if the characters are themselves smart, and conversely. Possibility trumps realism, but there’s an air of phoniness to it. Writing characters who quote Kant doesn’t make you smart any more than writing characters who say “c*nt” makes you dumb.

Wordplay though… everyone agrees that’s the hallmark of a handsome genius.