Although the corruption doesn't get much darker, the hero more clueless or the insights less earth-shattering than in Luke Eberl's "Choose Connor," it's a film that works through guilelessness and cynicism.
"Connor" concerns dweeb Owen Norris (Alex D. Linz), the 15-year-old winner of his school's "merit of excellence" award. Owen is visibly excited that his award will be presented by congressman Lawrence Connor (Steven Weber).
With a predator's instinct, he invites Owen to become his campaign's "youth spokesman."
To be believable now, someone as idealistic as Owen has to be 15 years old. This may be due in part to the fact that director Eberl was only 20 when he made the film: The shooting is often awkward, and young Linz is the picture of cruel adolescence. His depth of knowledge on local issues is vast, however. And his inability to see what's going on around him is just as oceanic.
Owen doesn't think it odd that Connor travels around with a teenager named Caleb (Escher Holloway), who doesn't go to school, calls Connor his uncle and has a room in Connor's house that could pass as a video arcade.
What is "Choose Connor" about? Political corruption, sexual perversity, power and the various malignant cocktails that those ingredients can produce. We've tasted them before. What we haven't indulged in is the reeducation of someone as smart as Owen, whose book learnin', as Huck might say, has brought him the opportunity of a lifetime, but whose epic naivete prevents him from perceiving what's really happening.
The real question posed by "Choose Connor" is whether someone like Owen would choose to be the monster he's quite capable of becoming, or run home through the night, shrinking inside his precocity and his overpriced suit.
-- John Anderson (Oct. 31, 2008)
Contains adult content and vulgarity.