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A chain-smoking, beer-sloshing grandmother (Amy Madigan) is forced to attend to her environmentally attuned granddaughter (Perla Haney-Jardine) after the 13-year-old is abandoned by her selfish mother (Marin Ireland). Mom has it inside her meth-baked head that she's destined to find fame as a Hollywood makeup artist to the stars.

Lauduree (Haney-Jardine) must have skipped a few generations. The kid is more concerned with losing the 6-month's worth of data on a backyard carbon sequestration project than she is finding shelter with granny. Alone, in her tin shanty, Lauduree's passion for science becomes her family, filling her days as well as the many emotional holes left by a negligent mother and a dad whose only trace is a Kodak slide dated 1981.

If it sounds like another mothers and daughters bonding picture that somehow leapfrogged past the networks into theatrical release, that's partially because it is. How many times has a young outcast prevented her even nerdier male classmate from catching a beating from the class bully? Movie parents never get birthday gifts right, but writer, director Jenny Deller takes delight in knowing (and showing) that a budding wilderness preservationist has as much use for the stuffed banana her grandma's beau presents her with as Captain Hook does a volley ball.

Nature footage, particularly the type guaranteed to ensure a booking on The Discovery Channel, is kept to a minimum. Instead of eating up 5 minutes worth of screen time with a musical montage showing Lauduree frolicking with woodland pals, Deller distills it down to one striking tight shot of the child giving an ant a finger ride up the side of its hill.

Nor is it ever inconvenienced by finger-wagging or environmental lectures. Whatever ecologically correct themes Deller wants to impart are quickly dispensed with during a brief classroom sequence, with great comic charm, by Lili Taylor.

Perla Haney-Jardine is one to watch. The gifted juvenile delivers a delicate, natural, always in the moment performance that stays with you long after the audience has filed out of the theatre.

Normally my main gripe about profanity in movies is there wasn't enough. Future Weather is playing unrated. There's no question that Lauduree is slightly unbalanced, and a brief flurry of "fucks" she lets fly after plans go wrong rings false. It's also the only thing preventing me from suggesting that this week you bring the entire family to the Digital Gym.

Reader Rating: Three Stars

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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