Skipped Parts [2000]

A gentle, oddly idealistic script and assured performances by a strong ensemble cast make this coming-of-age tale a standout. Skipped Parts is the story of Sam, a young would-be writer, and his free-spirited mother. Shipped off to the wilds of Wyoming by his embarrassed politician-grandfather, Sam (Bug Hall) and his mother Lydia (Jennifer Jason Leigh, clearly enjoying herself) get down to the business of getting to know and shocking the locals. Sam meets kindred spirit Maurey (Mischa Barton), and the two, though only 14, begin to experiment with sex--the "skipped parts" of the novels they've been reading. Hall and Barton give astonishingly good performances for such young actors--Barton in particular shows a poise that bodes well for her continued career. The script isn't perfect, but it is earnest and affectionate toward its characters, and that goes a long way. Watch for Drew Barrymore, who joins in the fun for a few quietly silly moments as Sam's dream girl. --Ali Davis

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