Palo Alto


Palo Alto

Critics Consensus

A promising debut for director Gia Coppola, Palo Alto compensates for its drifting plot with solid performances and beautiful cinematography.



Reviews Counted: 122

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User Ratings: 14,018


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

Shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts) is the class virgin -a popular soccer player and frequent babysitter for her single-dad coach, Mr. B. (James Franco). Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is an introspective artist whose best friend and sidekick Fred (Nat Wolff) is an unpredictable live wire with few filters or boundaries. While April negotiates a dangerous affair with Mr. B., and Teddy performs community service for a DUI - secretly carrying a torch for April, who may or may not share his affection - Fred seduces Emily (Zoe Levin), a promiscuous loner who seeks validation through sexual encounters. One high school party bleeds into another as April and Teddy finally acknowledge their mutual affection, and Fred's escalating recklessness spirals into chaos. (C) Tribeca

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Critic Reviews for Palo Alto

All Critics (122) | Top Critics (40)

  • All of this is potentially irritating to say the least, and yet, despite the junior star entitlement and teen-angst cliches, the film is unexpectedly engaging.

    Oct 16, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A pale imitation of the early novels of Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote about young ennui and aimlessness from the inside out.

    Jun 13, 2014 | Rating: 2/4
  • Ultimately, "Palo Alto" is a messy yet haunting portrait of a particular time in life.

    Jun 12, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • It's accurate to say that "Palo Alto" is another movie by another Coppola about the lives of the rich, bored and disaffected, but that description sells the movie short.

    May 29, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • While it shows Coppola has talent, it's also as aimless as her characters' self-absorbed, self-medicated, joyless lives.

    May 24, 2014 | Rating: 2/5
  • That Coppola finds occasional grace and spirit here shows understanding and compassion. Her next assignment? Make a movie that's not about the troubles of the privileged and bored.

    May 23, 2014 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Palo Alto


The meandering quality of the film's plot (which may put most viewers off) is in fact what I like the most about it, while the solid performances, nice cinematography and Gia Coppola's firm direction help make this a solid debut for her as a filmmaker.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The reviews for this aren't great, but I kind of liked it. It has that 90's indie film feel to it (it's not set in the 90's, or not so I could tell, but it really reminded me of films like Kids, All over me, Freeway etc). Just the kind of thing I love. My main criticism is that it doesn't have a true ending. It really felt like something was going to happen, but it didn't. And Emma Roberts is not a favourite of mine either, but she's not too awful in this one. I wasn't very impressed with all the smoking either. Is it really necessary to glamorise that disgusting habit? Those few sticking points lost it the star. But I did enjoy it overall and I think I need to watch it again, because it is subtle on some points. I suspect I missed a lot. The young cast do a good job. The actors playing Teddy and Emily were standouts.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Gripping teenage drama.

Matt Goodman
Matt Goodman

Super Reviewer

Towards the end of "Palo Alto," high school senior April(Emma Roberts) remarks on the pointlessness of current films. While I the perpetual optimist had not noticed, it is also possible that April had not noticed it about the film she is a character in. And in case you're wondering, this is not a movie clever enough for such meta criticism. Instead, "Palo Alto" falls prey to James Franco's patented pretentiousness with neophyte writer director Gia Coppola attempting to adapt some of his stories and doing little to make them more palatable on screen.(The only sign of original thought here is a scene of April sitting in her locker having lunch.) While the movie's pace and focus could best be termed as sluggish and hazy, to be fair, James Franco is a good actor, here playing a lecherous soccer coach. That character is emblematic of this cliched movie where all the adults are failing the kids by being either molesters, writing their term papers, letting them play violent video games or showing them inappropriate movies.(A clip of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" provides the only nudity.) So, it's no wonder that Teddy(Jack Kilmer) and Fred(Nat Wolff) have gloriously stupid conversations like the one that opens "Palo Alto" when in fact there is nothing wrong with teenagers having not figured everything out, yet.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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