When The Perks Of Being A Wallflower was released in 2012, I was surprised to find that an author adapting and directing their own source material was a thing of beauty. After all, when you’re so closely invested to a project, there’s a good chance that you’ll hold some things so sacrosanct that you’ll be too afraid to diverge from your own material for the sake of a better film. Thankfully, Stephen Chobsky turned in a film that’s so full of heart and beauty that it was truly something to behold. Unfortunately, Ask Me Anything seems to be the polar opposite, failing to even surpass TV-movie standards. Which is a damned shame, because this film has a really good cast that tries its best to make this movie happen.
Katie Kampenfelt (Britt Robertson) is involved in an affair with a film professor (Justin Long,) and thus wants to take a year off of school before she starts college to further try and convince him to date her. On top of all of that, she has the stock litany of issues such as trying to find a job, dealing with her alcoholic father (Robert Patrick,) and trying to find herself. Upon the suggestion of her guidance counselor, Katie starts a blog chronicling her life, and logging salacious tales of her affairs and her life.
Ask Me Anything isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination, but under the best of circumstances, this film could have breathed some fresh life into this tired cliché of the young person trying to find themselves. Unfortunately, those circumstances are pretty on target with what this sort of film delivers, right down to the issues with her father and some revelations about her childhood and how it’s affected her relationships with men. Anything you can think of in the life of a teenage girl trying to “find herself” pretty much happens in this movie, and it’s not done in any sort of new or imaginative way.
If there’s anything this film can be praised on, it’s the casting. Britt Robertson’s Katie is pretty paint-by-numbers, but she injects as much creativity as she can into the character in order to keep things moving. Supporting actors like Justin Long, Robert Patrick, and even Christian Slater manage to bring some much-needed weight to the situations depicted in the film, and each of them manages to walk away with a piece of the movie. Best of all though is the legendary Martin Sheen, who is woefully underused in this film. His warm demeanor provides Katie with a person she should have been seeking advice from all throughout the film, but for the sake of plot only really gets two big scenes with.
Of course, without spoiling it, the biggest flaw in the film is its twist ending. For a good portion of the running time, a narrative is created that seems cohesive and moving in one direction. At least, that is, until the last five minutes of the film, where writer/director Allison Burnett kicks in a revelation that puts everything on its head – and not in the right way. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good twist that makes me think, but Ask Me Anything doesn’t set itself up properly to earn that twist and the fall out, which leaves this ending flapping in the wind at the end of its 100 minute run time.
Ask Me Anything is the anti-The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, right down to generating feelings of cold, unforgiving spite by time the film’s ended. If it wasn’t for the stellar cast assembled for the film, I’d have an even harder time giving this film the rating I did. But since the cast tried their hardest to make this limp life lesson into something watchable, Ask Me Anything gets credit for having that in its corner. You can Ask Me Anything you like about this movie, just don’t ask me to watch it again.