“Flower” Takes the Bloom Off Zoey Deutch

“Flower” Takes the Bloom Off Zoey Deutch

I was less than shocked, when the credits rolled for Flower, to see a bunch of men’s names flash by.

Why? Well, let’s talk about this movie. Zoey Deutch, insanely charismatic and adorable, plays Erica, a 17-year-old who’s constantly chipper and witty despite having an imprisoned father who she’s trying to bail out by giving blow jobs to grown men and then blackmailing them.

Her mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) may not know all the details regarding this scheme, but is totally cool with the fact that her daughter keeps a notebook of very precise drawings of men’s penises — with names attached. Laurie’s more concerned about the fact that her stepson Luke (Joey Morgan) is just getting out of rehab, fighting suicidal impulses that stem from having been molested by former schoolteacher Will (Adam Scott).

Erica and her quirky friends hatch a plan to simultaneously fill the bail bucket and revenge Luke: Erica will seduce Will, secure documentation, and then they’ll all shake him down for everything he’s got. Luke goes along with this, leading to extended scenes of flirtation in which Erica banters with Will about hip-hop (her dad taught her all about Eazy-E), finagles a very hands-on bowling lesson, and makes out with him in a Saab in the rain.

Do you think sparks might also fly between Erica and the schlumpy Will? If so, you may by this point have detected a pattern in which just about every possible male fantasy involving a teenage manic pixie dream girl is fulfilled.

Director Max Winkler, best-known for the 40-percent-fresh Ceremony (2010), shouldn’t have provided any cause for unreasonable expectations. Buzz instead centered around the Alex McAulay screenplay — which somehow made the 2012 Black List of Hollywood’s most promising scripts before being revised by Winkler and Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West) — and around Deutch, a busy young actor for whom the term “It Girl” might have been invented. For good measure, Tim Heidecker shows up as Luke’s cheesy dad.

There could be a good movie about Deutch and Morgan bonding as mismatched step-siblings, both nursing their own wounds. Flower, which never finds a comfortable tone and ultimately yields to a series of overdetermined plot devices, isn’t it.

Nonetheless, Deutch is great as the free-spirited Erica. Whether or not it’s plausible that this character could possibly be so extraordinarily comfortable in her own skin, Deutch goes for it and runs circles around every single scene. Somebody give her a better role…oh wait, she’s had several of them. Go see one of those instead.

Jay Gabler