Some people will do anything to conform in Joseph Castelo’s The Preppie Connection, a based-on-a-true-story YA coming-of-age-crime-drama, about a high schooler on scholarship who smuggles cocaine from Colombia, in 1984. Thomas Mann plays that high schooler, ill-fitted for the preppy, privileged milieu of his jaded classmates. Thomas Mann is also the main problem with the movie: He doesn’t have the physical presence to realistically embody the character he plays. The other actors are well-cast: Lucy Fry plays the gorgeous love interest, Logan Huffman plays her slimy boyfriend, Jessica Rothe plays a comically flat prepster. The synth-heavy score swallows up a few too many scenes, a painfully mawkish non-eighties acoustic song serenades a climactic montage, and the voiceover narration is mostly superfluous. The parting words of The Preppie Connection suggest an alternate take on the movie: less morose, less conventional, more fun.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White