Review of ReGeneration

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ReGENERATION takes a look at the inherent cynicism found in many of today's youth and young adults, and the influences that perpetuate our culture's apathetic approach to social and political causes. The film features three intersecting stories of students, parents, and artists all looking for their place in society.
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Movie Review: "ReGeneration" --

Rating: NR
Length: 81 minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Directed by: Phillip Montgomery
Genre: Documentary
Stars: 4 out of 5 stars

When the trailer for "ReGeneration" hit the Internet in early 2012, fans flocked to see Ryan Gosling's ("The Notebook," "The Ides of March," "Drive") new movie. Those who were unaware of the film were likely surprised when they discovered a documentary that uses Gosling's voice as narration for the movie. The film examines younger adults and teens today and how those teens act and feel about certain problems facing the world.

It seems like every generation earns a nickname. There was Generation X, Generation Y, and even the New Generation. Director Phillip Montgomery ("A Guest to the Road") delves into the world of today's generation in "ReGeneration." Montgomery uses the movie as a way to search for the answers as to why young adults today seem to do little in regards to changing the world. Past generations went to war, protested against inhumane conditions, and went out of their way to make the world better. Montgomery believes that the current generation is cynical and only concerned with their own lives.

"ReGeneration" paints a bleak world, but it also presents a world that many people notice daily. They see the teens facing bullying in school and over the computer, the youths who make fun of people they pass on the street, and those who taunt others who try to make a difference. Montgomery discusses the situation with a variety of famous people, including legendary linguist Noam Chomsky. Gosling narrates the film, joining Montgomery on his journey to find out what is wrong with teens today.

As the movie progresses, Montgomery interviews several people who present their own arguments. Though he never quite seems to find an answer, he does reach a conclusion that he thinks others will agree with and follow. The movie seems like it wants teens and young adults to go against what others think and do and to make their own opinions. The idea is along the same lines as a teacher or parent encouraging their child to speak up when pressured by peers.

Montgomery cuts the interview with scenes of incidents that include street fights and war. This helps show the audience the dangers of following others blindly. It's the same thing that helped Nazism spread during World War II, as Germans were afraid to speak out and take a stand against the Nazis. Montgomery does not censor the people he interviews, letting each person speak freely. If the person uses adult language, the director keeps it in the film to show the honest thoughts of that person.

"ReGeneration" starts with a look at problems currently facing the world. Montgomery examines the high unemployment rate, low salaries, war and fighting overseas, and even the changes in weather caused by pollution. By comparing today's world with the world as it looked in the 1960s, he wants to show that teens no longer care to the extent that they once did.

Montgomery makes a statement as the movie progresses, which focuses on media and advertising. He believes that teens do what they see on television. As consumerism grew, teens began thinking true happiness comes from obtaining many material possessions. The young adults keep buying new items, but those possessions do not lead to happiness.

Some of the best moments in the film come when Montgomery talks to young adults. He shows what the experts believe, but he also wants to know what the teens think. He talks to parents who should know what they want, but those parents are too young and too disenfranchised to deal with the future. Montgomery also discusses the change from generation to generation with other teens, and those teens are just as confused and clueless as anyone else. By discussing the situation with those at the center of the documentary, the filmmaker shows that today's teens do not know how to take a stand.

"ReGeneration" focuses on an issue that many people realize exists. Nearly everyone knows a teen or young adult who seems confused about the future. Montgomery wants those teens to understand that one person making even a small change can have a big impact. The only flaw with the film is that he doesn't show teens who actually make a difference, which may have inspired others. Even with that minor flaw, "ReGeneration" is an interesting movie that speaks to a wide audience. Those who see it will find themselves thinking about the film's central issues for many weeks after the movie.