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The fiction feature directorial debut of "The IT Crowd" actor Richard Ayoade, "Submarine" stars Craig Roberts ("Jane Eyre") as 15-year-old Oliver Tate, a somewhat unlikable protagonist who has the hots for an even less likable classmate (Yasmin Paige, TV's "The Sarah Jane Adventures"). While he's losing his virginity, his parents haven't had sex in seven months, and it looks like Mom (Sally Hawkins, "Made in Dagenham") may be cheating with the new neighbor, psychic Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine, "Blitz"), who happens to be an old boyfriend.

While it's amusing to see Considine in a mullet and black leather pants, not to mention practicing ninja moves in the backyard, he's only a small part of the story. It's all Craig's, and the character simply isn't a joy to be around. The tone of the piece is purposely downbeat in that wistful, coming-of-age way, but taking that approach, you can get either Wes Anderson or an imitation. This is an imitation.

As a director, Ayoade comes up with some sharp visuals, but shoves viewers' faces in several too many "look at me!" sequences that seem peculiar just for the sake of being peculiar. That's surprising, because as a writer — with "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" in particular — he has shown he's more clever than that. —Rod Lott


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