Pete Davidson, the “Saturday Night Live” bad boy, is a natural at playing the guy your parents want you to stay away from. His character in “Big Time Adolescence,” the tatted, platinum-haired, foul-mouthed Zeke, feels like an extension of the Davidson we see in the tabloids. A 23-year-old slacker who never grew up, Zeke spends his time smoking weed and being a bad influence on his fawning minion, the 16-year-old Mo (Griffin Gluck), his ex-girlfriend’s younger brother.
Mo is endearingly nerdy, like Duckie from John Hughes’s “Pretty in Pink”; amusingly, Jon Cryer, who portrayed Duckie, plays Mo’s father. He pays Zeke as he would a babysitter.
But under Zeke’s tutelage, Mo only wades further into trouble in this debut film by the writer-director Jason Orley. He starts selling drugs to upperclassmen at Zeke’s request, first at a “pimps and hos” party, where, among the flashy costumes, he appears in his father’s bathrobe with a gold chain.
Then he tramples a blossoming romance with his crush, Sophie (Oona Laurence), after an ill-advised ghosting. Mo, not unexpectedly, crashes and burns while chasing Zeke’s approval.
Though Davidson, Gluck and Laurence show star potential, Orley either boxes them into a too-conventional coming-of-age arc or gives them cloyingly charming characteristics: Mo, awkwardly, calls Sophie instead of texting her; Sophie always has a rapid-fire comeback ready; and Zeke is a walking stoner punchline. Despite some moments of tenderness and easy chemistry between Zeke and Mo, “Big Time Adolescence” doesn’t have enough heart or humor to save it from becoming just another movie about white dudes bro-ing out.
Big Time Adolescence
Rated R for teens partying too hard. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.