It’s often said that a change of scenery is what most people need to get their lives into perspective, to get their priorities straight. A change of scenery is forced on rebellious Greta (Hilary Duff) when he mother sends Greta to her grandparents’ house in New Jersey for the summer. While her mother is working on her third marriage, she hopes that her parents Katherine (Ellen Burstyn) and Joseph (Michael Murphy) can work on Greta’s cynical, sarcastic personality. But Greta has other plans, which include checking things off of a pre-suicide bucket list. When Greta gets a summer job waiting tables at a seafood restaurant and meets short-order cook Julie (Evan Ross), her plans start to deviate.
Unlike malcontent and grieving Greta, Julie has decided that he is done with not living his life to the fullest, or living up to his potential, and he operates accordingly. Julie dreams and works towards a future of independence while Greta doesn’t plan on making it to the end of summer. Despite the obvious clash in their outlooks on life, Greta and Julie have undeniable chemistry and embark on a summer romance that changes her for the better and becomes the catalyst for healing of the multi-generational that her family carries.
Though According to Greta features Ross and Burstyn entirely in their element in the indie drama, as well as a memorable performance from Murphy, Duff’s performance left much to be desired. In so many areas, Duff was beyond forced, right down to Greta’s “tough girl” walk, which is the laughable embodiment of trying way too hard for a character who isn’t supposed to care. She is most believable in those moments when Greta is vulnerable and tender, moments that are a much-needed break from the rest of the time when we never forget that she is acting. Despite the less-than-stellar elements, According to Greta suggests a dramatic range that Duff was never given the opportunity to display in her Lizzie McGuire days.
Though lacking in some areas, According to Greta is charming and memorable, and the relationships between the characters seem completely genuine, and all the more painful because of that. This one was never going to be a blockbuster, but it is certainly worth the time it takes it watch it once. Surprisingly feel-good and touching, According to Greta does exactly what it sets out to do: entertain us. I give this one 3.25 stars.