A futuristic Western hasn't been this fun since Wild Wild West. Jake Paltrow's second feature film Young Ones tells the story about a family struggling to get by, bartering on the black market for water. It reminds me of an early Steven Spielberg film, a fairytale tragedy about a family's quest for survival.
Set in futuristic dystopian America where people will fight to the death for the last drop out of a canteen bottle, Michael Shannon plays the head of household, Earnest Holm, an honest man who has a shady past that is never fully explored or answered. Kodi Smit-McPhee plays his teenage son, who is always wanting to show his worth to his father. Elle Fanning plays Shannon's rebellious daughter who fancies a mysterious fellow by the name of Flem Lever, played by Nicholas Hoult. They are a close-knit family, brought closer because of an incident involving the mother. The film delves into children growing up too fast because of personal tragedy and survival. McPhee does a great job as Jerome, a boy trying to find his self-worth in the world where everything has run dry and decrepit.
Overall the film seems to come up just short. Stylistically, it's one of the best I've seen in years, but the script seems to be a bit bare here with no real character development other than McPhee's character. Fanning has little to no depth, and Hoult seems to be miscast here. I never really believed him as Lever; Hoult is way too boyish for this role.
I think this is a big step in Paltrow's career. I just think he needs to fine tune his craft and come out swinging on his next film. Young Ones is a bit premature, and I was left a bit disappointed.