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Trent works in a neighborhood that distrusts him for not being middle-class. Things are being stolen around town, and he's an easy scapegoat. When 10-year-old Devon, who hates her life, bursts into Trent's and tries to hang out with him, we eventually get the following conversation:
Trent: "We can be friends, if you can keep it a secret."
Devon: "What's wrong with you and me being friends?"
Everything, that's what. Devon and Trent hang out together and goof around and stick it to the man. When Trent's not around, Devon engages in some Troubling Unchildlike Behavior that's so Squicky that I'm not going to describe it here, but suffice to say, this movie is rated R for a reason, or several.
Even as the characters have fun rebelling in their own eccentric ways, it's almost like the comic relief inbetween the growing drama. You know things are going bad. Trent is directly falsely accused of something he didn't do, and you know it's not going to be the last time it happens. Devon almost gets caught lying about hanging out with Trent, and you just get the feeling that sooner or later, she will get caught.
Many people will find this movie hard to watch. It's got a fair amount of Harmful To Minors, Squick, Troubling Unchildhood Behavior, a lot of cruel people, as well as some people who genuinely mean well, but are misled. The main characters' behavior doesn't help matters any, but one gets the feeling that no-one would listen to them anyway. Society is disinclined to trust Trent, society expects Devon to be a "nice girl" and act a certain way, and society turns a blind eye to the bad behavior of its own.
The movie could be said to be a scathing commentary on the hypocrisy of certain types of enclosed societies. It could also be said to be commentary on prejudice. Or on subverted expectations - Trent and Devon's friendship is actually platonic and harmless, a local boy is actually the mystery thief, Devon is the one who provokes Trent into breaking the law, and the most respected community members are the ones engaging in the worst behaviors.
Lawn Dogs can be said to be many things, but one thing is for sure: it is ballsy and unique.
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