LOL (Mandate Pictures of a Double Features Films)
1 hr. 37 mins.
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, Ashley Hinshaw, Douglas Booth, Adam G. Sevani, Marlo Thomas, Gina Gershon, Thomas Jane, Nora Dunn, Fisher Stevens, Jay Hernandez, Austin Nichols
Directed by: Lisa Azuelos
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Critic’s Rating: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
The trivial teen-angst comedy LOL is a relentlessly tired take on the struggles between headstrong adolescents and their authoritative grown-up counterparts. A needlessly tepid tale of growing pains, social networking, pudding pop alienation and overall teenage disorientation, LOL feels flat and outdated recalling those preachy After School specials of youth-oriented insubordination from yesteryear.
Writer-director Lisa Azuelos, a French filmmaker whose own 2008 carefree romp LOL: Laughing Out Loud was an immediate sensation in her country, helms an unappetizing Americanized version of her giddy gem. Apparently the essence of her popularized and highly spirited ditty has not translated accordingly. The French feature starred a spry and soulful Sophie Marceau as the charismatic lead. The creatively watered-down States-side version features pop music sensation Miley Cyrus. Enough said.
The so-called complicated mother-daughter relationship between Anne (Demi Moore) and Lola (Miley Cyrus) is outlined in lightweight angst. Chicago-based teen Lola is a feisty high schooler that supposedly goes through the typical adolescent motions. She spends her time texting with friends and hanging out socially. Lola has her moments of teen-driven petulance and ambivalence. She has a close friend in musician Kyle (Douglas Booth) but wonders constantly about what it would be like if she took their relationship to another whole new level. Translation: OMG…4 real! Gotta have cutie Kyle b4 it is 2 late! Whatever.
As for Mommy Dearest Anne she has her own romantic woes to worry about when she is not butting heads with Lola. Anne’s dilemma is determining her attraction between two men. Should she keep on having physical dalliances with her non-dependable ex- husband (Thomas Jane)? Maybe Anne should start fresh and cultivate a brand new intimate bond with a drug law enforcement officer (Jay Hernandez)?
Clearly, both Anne and Lola are walking symbols of insecurities. The film never quite establishes why they appear so wounded emotionally although it is somewhat understandable for why Lola feels conflicted given her “teen trauma” period. However, for Anne to act like a senior-aged juvenile does not feel as authentic. Granted she is a single mother trying to raise a difficult child while balancing her turmoil. Of course showcasing Anne as a frivolous party girl who enjoys her pot-smoking sessions at home with buddies (Fisher Stevens, Gina Gershon) in attendance is suppose to give us a glimpse of a lost woman who is no more a “little girl” than her own teenage daughter. Veteran actress Marlo Thomas is thrown in for good measure as Anne’s hard-nosed drinking mother. Thomas’s madcap matriarch is sort of a quick-witted solution as to why Anne is probably so messed up.
Lola’s handy sources of confiding her inner thoughts lie with her best buddy Emily (Ashley Hinshaw) and her sacred diary. It is the diary that Lola dares to share her spicy insights about everything from her deep affections for Kyle to her views and attitudes on sex. Lola feels pressured as her class trip to France approaches. How should she react to Kyle? Can she keep her sexual cravings in check regarding her immense crush on her “friend”?
In the meanwhile, the diary is accidentally read by Anne causing her to panic and become paranoid about Lola’s intentions and motivations for possibly “walking on the wild side.” Anne is confused about what to do or say because, after all, she already has her occasional mini battles with a moody Lola. Anne is concerned but she has her own issues to deal with and confronting Lola about her diary-related revelations may rock the boat further.
Consequently, LOL strives to be assertive in its familial melodrama with bubbly shades of off-kilter humor. The movie feels monotonously derivative in its sitcom-packaging as if it came from the ABC Family channel prime time line-up. Azuelos and co-writer Kamir Ainouz hastily incorporate all kinds of scattershot antidotal situations (the narcotics officer turning a blind eye to Anne’s pot parties, strained mother-daughter discomfort, a complimentary father-son clashing, offbeat side characters supplying the lame quirkiness, etc.) to enhance the transparent cheeky material. Unfortunately, the random static of rotating subplots undermines the soul of the movie’s purpose which is to portray the sometimes tender and tumultuous roller-coaster ride of adolescence and adulthood frustration.
The complications appear sophomoric and patched together as if it were a third grade jigsaw puzzle. Strangely, the movie buries its head in the France field trip and wants to shine as a polished travelogue instead of working on the theme of the movie’s intended pulse in conveying the youth-oriented/middle-aged alienation. Stuffing the film with texting and instant messaging tendencies only serves as a way to make LOL more hip for the young crowd than it is in basic concept.
Moore does what she can to carry off her harried turn as a fragile single mother but her efforts get lost in the translation of the overburdened frivolous script. Cyrus spends most of the movie either writing passages in her journal or looking moon-eyed at her love interest. Adam G. Savani is on board as an inconsequential nerd wanting to play footsies with a disinterested Hinshaw’s Emily. In fact, the only character that seems to have more meaning, depth and purpose is the darn diary!
The depiction of troubled teens and adults that lost their way in psychological indifference never registers in the lackluster LOL. It is too bad that one could not push the delete button on this lame laughter.