Keith Todd Kessler

Keith Todd Kessler
In order to capture the heightened emotions and melodrama of teenaged love, filmmakers will often toss in impending death or insanity, as tragic outbursts over missed phone calls and dirty looks in high school hallways tend to seem goofy on film without a great degree of stylization. It's a bit of a cop out, and an amusing one at that, as annihilation anxieties and realizations of conveyor belt conformity, outside of Che Guevara T-shirts and anti-consumerist rants, are often far from reality within the average teen lexicon. Such is the case with Keith, a well-intentioned and not entirely awful teen romance about a studious tennis superstar with big college dreams named Natalie (Elisabeth Harnois), who meets Keith (Jesse McCartney), a mysterious boy from the other side of the tracks with a secret. Keith isn't like the other boys, given his propensity for deeper analysis and a desire to live on the edge; he is able to help Natalie see that all of her dreams are constructs of social expectations and parental approval, which is quite the feat for a 17-year-old. Anyone familiar with general cinematic templates can see that Keith's secret is of the tragic sort, as the rule of thumb suggests that wisdom comes hand-in-hand with personal tribulations. Perhaps if the direction wasn't so bland, or the story so perfunctory, or the romance so dispassionate, the emotions could have come through the screen to capture that turning point in life but as it stands, Keith is little more than an above-average television movie. It is neither offensive nor aggravating. Rather it is merely unremarkable in its execution, saying nothing new and taking no notable risks. Fans of singer Jesse McCartney's generic boy band music may have an appreciation for the film and its central romance, while everyone else will likely grow bored by the final act. The DVD includes only a trailer, as far as supplements go. (Seville)