Town Square

Post a New Topic

The kids aren't all right, but they'll be OK

Original post made on May 16, 2014

The two minutes leading into the opening credits of Gia Coppola's atmospheric film adaptation of James Franco's short-story collection, "Palo Alto Stories," would be enough to give any parent pause before handing over the car keys to their teenage son or daughter.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 16, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (22)

Like this comment
Posted by Three cheers for us we're in a move!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 16, 2014 at 9:10 am

What a vapid article. This film raises important issues about our youth, about sexual harassment in our schools, alcohol, drugs, sex, emotional problems, and more but none of them are discussed here. Instead, we get "they'll be OK." Oh thanks Weekly for that empty worthless PR piece. Skip the soul-searching and go right to the soundtrack. Gah. What garbage.

Like this comment
Posted by Three cheers for us we're in a movie!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 16, 2014 at 9:15 am

"The kids of "Palo Alto" may not be all right, but you get the sense that they're going to make it out the other side, and not too worse for wear."

The movie is about the horrible risks that our kids are taking and the obliviousness and self-centeredness of the adults in their lives who need their perfect child to be perfect in their perfect world.

unless they die on the tracks, get hospitalized for cutting, go to rehab, get arrested, or get sexually harassed until they have to leave school due to rape culture. That might leave them worse for the "wear."

What would the Weekly article of "Thirteen" read: "While some kids argue with their parents, it's just a normal part of teenage years and it's all awesome. See our Real Estate Ads, page 15")

Like this comment
Posted by Been there
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 10:34 am

As someone who grew and went to high school with Franco, I can tell you that the stories in the book are all true. As I read it, I thought - ah, yes, he's talking about so and so; or yeah, I remember hearing about that.

Like this comment
Posted by SusieQ
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 16, 2014 at 10:38 am

Hmmmmm.....Franco plays an "older, predatory soccer coach" and lays a trap for a female student who babysits for his kid. Sounds vaguely familiar. Seriously? Do we need to see this played out on screen?

Like this comment
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

The movie is about SOME kids and SOME parents.

I work with Palo Alto kids who have set up online writers groups where they are writing and editing each others' stories for fun. They are diving deep into theater. They are working hard at school and managing busy schedules to make sure there is time for friends and fun creative projects, and hanging out in the park together. My older daughter just got herself a full-time job for the summer to help pay for college--on her own initiative.

I see lots of great stuff in these kids--They are creative, clever, funny, hardworking, loving, joyful. Sometimes it gets stressful, but mostly they keep their lives in perspective. I do a lot of volunteer work in the schools, so I am lucky to work with them often. I won't pretend there's no drug use and risk-taking behavior. It happens. As with every generation, there are troubled kids who lack support and guidance and make terrible mistakes. However, many, many Palo Alto kids are doing just great. Let's appreciate each of them as individuals who make individual choices, like the rest of us. No generalizations about a generation, please.

Like this comment
Posted by RussianMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

Perspective, so well said! Let's appreciate our kids. Not everything is bad in PA, many kids and families are happy. We don't have a chance to talk and hear about those.

Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on May 16, 2014 at 10:56 am

Bummer. I would rather the film had been shot in Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on May 16, 2014 at 10:58 am

SusieQ, I know to whom you are referring and that was a really difficult time. My kids were in close contact with that person, they thought he was great, and I supported the innocence until facts proved otherwise. :(

Like this comment
Posted by Mom in the 80's
a resident of Professorville
on May 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

SF "Chronicle" movie review headline this morning of "Palo Alto";
"High school revisited-as awful as always".
"Nothing in the story feels specific to that California City or emblematic of it"

Like this comment
Posted by Jonathan
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 11:52 am

I haven't seen this movie, though I read some of the stories it stems from (and know that the film version omits some of Franco's most repellent material). But it appears that not only is there little or no local flavor here, there's little originality. That extends all the way to its having stolen the title from another film, 2007's Palo Alto (see Web Link). Made by people who were closer to teenage than the hyped Gia Coppola, and replete with actual Palo Alto locales, that one is worth seeing. It's available for streaming on Netflix.

Like this comment
Posted by Meh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

There was another film called "Palo Alto, CA" which was terrible, but it looked like it was mostly filmed here. I am not a fan of Franco, so I won't be in a hurry to see this one, especially if it wasn't even filmed locally.

Like this comment
Posted by kr in midtown
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

If you want to see the real thing, go see the FIRST "Palo Alto" movie, which was written by Palo Alto High graduates, directed and produced by the same, filmed right here in Palo Alto, and screened at the TriBeCa film festival.

Web Link

I can't believe this article never even mentioned this original movie. Nick Veronin, you didn't do your homework.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

The important question to ask: If this film better or worse than Franco's naked selfies?

Like this comment
Posted by surprised
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I am surprised.
I thought Palo Alto kids were perfect and smoking and drinking happened only in East Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm

@Moderator - May I, respectfully, suggest to add this thread to the schools & kids category? (it is "around town" now).

Another movie based on past events comes to mind - Web Link
Wiki background - Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

The Daily Post's review noted that the movie "Palo Alto" "oddly contains nothing to contextualize it as the wealthy _tech capital_ of its title" (my emphasis). No doubt what makes real Palo Alto unique rather than generic, and the value of any such anchoring, was off the radar of the LA-based filmmakers; and as everyone keeps saying, it's avowedly a youth genre picture.

But to add some context here, genre youth stories were Franco's evident point in writing, and as you may know, the stories themselves received serious criticism. Excerpted from Wikipedia:

Scribner published a collection of short stories, Palo Alto, by Franco . . . Inspired by some of Franco's own teenage memories, and memories written and submitted by high school students at Palo Alto Senior High School . . . The book has received mixed reviews; Los Angeles Times called it "the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail, but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance." . . . At least one editor of a literary journal testified he would not publish Franco's stories, claiming he has been published due to his star power, not literary talent. Publishers Weekly reviewed the collection, stating "The author fails to find anything remotely insightful to say in these 11 amazingly underwhelming stories."

Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Actually, "Mom in the 80's" summed up the situation more succinctly with two one-liners in an earlier comment.

Like this comment
Posted by Other side of the tracks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

Perhaps Coppola should have named the film "Affluenza" instead.

I agree with you, Perspective. I am regularly stunned by the great kids here. There's a great quote somewhere about how incredibly hard (but not impossible) it is to write about good people and make them interesting, which speaks to the skill of writers. Anyone?

I'd like to see someone take that aspect of Palo Alto on, which is really my Palo Alto. (I'll do it someday if someone else doesn't :-) Palo Alto Love Story ... Funding anyone? )

I also read that most kids are surprised to learn that drugs and other teen ills are not inevitable or even desired by the majority of teens, but they experience a lot of pressure because popular culture portrays teen culture so exclusively negatively.

I have always wished Franco well, but I wish he didn't view this place so exclusively through his own navel...

Like this comment
Posted by times
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2014 at 9:59 am

Franco's stories are not only his navel but different times.

What I'm seeing today May 17, 2014, Palo Alto high school students are among the brightest and some of the nicest kids I have seen anywhere. There are some exceptions, and they get all the press.

I agree with poster that it may be boring to make a movie or write about the regular kids, but that's OK. Notoriety is not exactly good, and before long, the notorious are not only famous for navel stories, but stories about their navel, if that makes any sense.

Go boring!

Like this comment
Posted by Franco please go away
a resident of Southgate
on May 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Other side of the tracks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

@ times,

That's why I'm looking for that quote! A really good writer knows how to make good people not boring, but it's **really** hard, probably the hardest challenge for a writer. Most are (obviously) not up to the task.

Like this comment
Posted by Other side of the tracks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

PS - I should probably also add, for the benefit of any kids (or aspiring writers) who read this --

There's a difference between what makes a story arc and characters interesting and easy to tell, and what makes a PERSON interesting.

Storytelling requires tension and resolution, so it's harder to make a story interesting with inherently good characters than it is when the characters are fundamentally flawed.

But that is not to say that good people are boring. Look at Jacques Cousteau or Mother Theresa, Jackie Robinson or Tim Berners-Lee, or Tina Fey and George Clooney for that matter.

Kids who go through the worst of the usual boring teen angst and screw up their lives so they never get out of it are interesting on film but very often boring losers in real life. Kids who are so great that they make good people and success in life would be much harder to plop into a plug-and-chug storyline, because it's harder to create the typical elements of compelling storytelling. But in real life, they are often the most fascinating of people.

Hope that clarifies things. I do NOT think our great kids are boring, either!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

QBB opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 4,015 views

Become a Master Gardener - Deadline Sept 21
By Laura Stec | 16 comments | 1,239 views

One more year
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 605 views


Registration now open

Sign up for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here