Seven years is a long time to wait between a film’s festival premiere and its release, but better late than never I guess. Jonathan Levine is best known for star-studded films like 50/50 and Warm Bodies, but his debut feature, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, has actually become his most recent. It was picked up by the Weinsteins after a successful premiere at TIFF in 2006… and then disappeared.
Well, it disappeared from U.S. shores but found minor success overseas and a cult status here in the States.
Unless you saw it at a festival appearance (or were savvy enough to import a copy from the UK), 2013 was the first real chance to see Mandy and figure out why all the boys love her. Seven years of hype and expectations are a lot to meet, but the movie remains an attractive and fun little retro slasher that has a surprising amount to say about teenagers, bullying, body issues, and more. Plus, you know, Amber Heard.
The film hit Blu-ray/DVD this week, and the only special feature included is a commentary from Levine. The nearly bare-bones nature would normally be something to criticize, but knowing the long, hard road this film had to travel the presence of a newly-recorded commentary is more than enough of a bonus.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
Commentator: Jonathan Levine (director)
1. Levine expects the commentary to be fun as he hasn’t seen the movie in six or seven years.
2. Jacob Forman‘s script was written “in collaboration with a lot of people we went to film school with.” The script was developed as Forman’s thesis project.
3. When Amber Heard came to audition, Forman said she was exactly as he had imagined the character in his head.
4. The film was shot in 2005 in Austin, TX, for six days a week over four weeks, and it cost around $600k.
5. Levine thinks the opening scenes with the “kids” hanging out at school and the pool party were inspired by Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. Other influences mentioned include Friday Night Lights, A Clockwork Orange and The Breakfast Club.
6. The cast and crew all stayed in the same hotel, and he’s fairly certain everyone got bedbugs.
7. Levine describes this as “a high school film in the Trojan horse of a slasher.” He is correct.
8. His intention was to give the film a “revisionist ’70s vibe,” something he feels benefits the film after having sat on the shelf for so long. “Except for the one fucking cell phone…”
9. The photo on Mandy’s dresser might be of Heard’s real parents. Maybe.
10. Levine thought nothing of the handjob in the car scene, but then he showed a rough cut of the film to his cousin. Said cousin was so proud that Levine had completed his first film that he insisted his kids watch it for the first time with them. Oops.
11. Levine does not understand skeet shooting.
12. The scene where the gang is playing Asshole features yellow Solo cups because Levine insisted they fit the film’s color palette better than red ones would have. “So that’s what a fucking director does.”
13. The cast was encouraged to ad-lib and improvise.
14. The first kill (Marlin getting a shotgun forced violently into her mouth) was added during a day of supplemental reshoots, and while Levine is ashamed to say he suggested the details of the kill (he calls it “fucking disgusting” and “awful”) he feels it’s “a visceral realization of all the ideas being articulated in the movie.” He recalls Forman’s girlfriend being especially opposed to it.
15. Levine gets tired of talking around the 42 minute mark and just starts watching the movie instead. He recovers a few minutes later. He deserves the break though, especially after he reveals that he was paid $15k for the film which took two years of full-time work.
16. After the “aggressively edited” whippet montage Levine says the decision to shoot the scene with a hand-crank camera came after they came back into vogue “when Tony Scott shot Man On a Wire.” Obviously he’s referring to Scott’s Man On Fire, but now I really want to see Scott’s documentary of a legendary tightrope walker.
17. Levine cracks a few jokes throughout regarding the film’s long road to release in the U.S., but ever the diplomat, he also says this: “Bob and Harvey [Weinstein] and Tom [Quinn, from Radius-TWC] have been so supportive of this movie from day one.” Quinn is off the hook obviously as his involvement didn’t start until last year, but Levine is being incredibly (and understandably) careful about not burning bridges with the douchey brothers Weinsteins.
18. FYI, Levine paid back his student loans in 2012.
19. The fairly dumb scene where Red and Chloe stop to kiss after they’ve been shot at and have found their friends’ dead bodies always worried Levine. He’s seen the film with audiences and heard their unintentional laughter, “but I don’t really care. Don’t forget, that guy [Aaron Himelstein] is my vicarious living Jew character, and I need him to kiss Whitney [Able].”
Best in Commentary
- “Sorry guys. That scene rendered me a little speechless.” – After the scene in the girls locker room plays out with almost no commentary from Levine.
- “That was supposed to be scary. I don’t really think it ended up being scary. I think I kind of fucked it up. See that’s the thing about watching a movie six or seven years later, you do see a lot of shit you could have done differently. I’ll beat myself up about that one for the rest of my life.”
- “I’m gonna take a pause to look at this little whippet montage.”
- “Oh man I totally forgot about this scene. He calls his parents? What’s gonna happen? Oh, he hangs up. That’s cool. Nice work Jacob.”
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a fun, fast-moving thriller that is at times both too stylish and too smart for its own good. Neither of those is a real negative though as it remains a damn good movie. Levine’s commentary is informative and entertaining in its own right, and while he deftly avoids showing any ill will towards the people responsible for burying his movie for several years, he does show an appreciation towards all the folks who’ve helped him on his journey as a filmmaker.
Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives