Oh, no! Not another film about teenage angst!!! How many of these things do we have to endure before we learn that teenagers have angst. Of course, that angst gets more amusing with Woody Harrelson in the mix; doling his own version of counseling to the main character.


First time writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig casts Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit", "Enders Game") in the lead as Nadine, a teenaged girl who thinks that she has the very worse life anyone could every have and is willing to unload her problems on anyone who'll listen. But since everyone else ignores her, she does most of her unloading on her teacher, Mr Bruner (Harrelson).

As with most of these coming of age films, Nadine isn't the super cool, super attractive, gregarious people person she wants to be. Instead that honor goes to her brother Darian (Blake Jenner in a non-singing role). Naturally, he is part of her problem; not that he picks on her or bullies her, instead is mere existence bothers her.


She finds solace when she finally gets a BFF in Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) with whom she can relate and hang out. More importantly, Krista gives Nadine that female connection she lacks with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) who is widowed. That's the other part, the only person with whom Nadine connected was her now dead father. She blames everything on his sudden death when she was a little girl.


Her bliss vanishes when Krista and her brother decide to hook-up and become a couple. Nadine see's this as a friendship robbery rather than simply embracing the relationship. The response is her tossing herself at both the class geek Erwin (Hayden Szeto) - who has his own unique collection of personality issues - and her crush Nick (Alexander Calvert) who can have any girl in the school.


The story is as mundane as you can imagine save for Nadine's daily dump-ons with Mr Bruner. Bruner dispenses his own brand of advice that ranges from total indifference to indifference. But, as you probably guess he does care but doesn't vest a lot of emotion in their relationship. He is Nadine's father-figure and he knows it.


For the most part, Bruner lets Nadine work her issues out on her own, even when she threatens suicide. This is advice Woody style. It's the very reason we come to like Harrelson's characters from bartender Woody Boyd in Cheers to Tallahassee in "Zombieland" to Haymitch from "The Hunger Games". It is their ongoing but brief interactions that make this film stand out.


Sedgwich turns in a decent performance as a middle-aged mother who isn't quite sure of anything including her appeal to men; she too craves a female bond, but doesn't get it from her daughter.


The rest of the characters come and go and offer little to no new personality to the film, which would have boosted the narrative. But then again, how many new characters can there be in a coming of age film.


"Edge of Seventeen" works because the humorous chemistry between Woody Harrelson and Hailee Steinfeld elevate it above mediocrity.   -- GEOFF BURTON