Appealingly lightweight despite the handful of "women's issues" crammed into its script, this comedy anticipated the Dead Poets Society-for-girls concept of Mona Lisa Smile by several years -- but without the syrupy sentimentality and political bombast. Writer/director Sarah Kernochan wisely casts a wide range of appealing teens, from indie stalwart Heather Matarazzo to future Hollywood it-girl Kirsten Dunst (who would later star in Mona Lisa Smile). Despite the occasional anachronism or emotional off-note in Kernochan's script, these actresses succeed in bringing the film's 1960s boarding-school milieu to life with far more charm and vigor than the film's modest production values would seem to forecast. Their den mother in this endeavor is Lynn Redgrave, essaying the comic role of a stuffy headmistress with the exaggerated aplomb of a theater person slogging her way through the indie-film trenches. All I Wanna Do may tell a familiar coming-of-age tale, but it tells it well, with young female characters whose personal quirks outweigh their origins in central casting.
by Brian J. Dillard review