LOL (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

LOL (2012)

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Seeking an alternative at the multiplex to The Avengers this week, I picked the only new opening available: the new Miley Cyrus vehicle LOL.

I tell you this not seeking pity, but as a form of rationalization and acceptance. That's one of the stages of Kubler-Ross model, right? And I accept that I freely watched LOL. A movie called LOL. God, what the fuck is wrong with me.

I knew nothing about the movie going in and too much about it going out. Cyrus, famous for her double role as possibly both Hannah and Montana, plays a teenager named Lola who is blindly careening through the rites of young adulthood. Lola is sometimes shortened to Lol, which can also mean 'laugh out loud' in internet terminology, which is arbitrary. And if I start counting the arbitrary now, this review would never end.

After Lol's boyfriend Chad tells her that he's slept with another girl, she dumps him and insinuates that she's slept with a guy herself. This is a bald faced lie-- the film is about the quest for her to lose her virginity-- but it sends ripples through her close knit circle of friends.

Miley Cyrus in a very serious movie about teen issues and stuff.

These include Emily, who has a crush on her math teacher, Ashley, the girl who jumps on Chad when given the chance, and Janice, who is vaguely ethnic. There are also four boys in this group, with Chad the heel, the generically dreamy Kyle, the dorky Max, and Lloyd, the non-white kid who gets to hook up with Janice.

Most of the movie concerns the more pressing matters with the white cast. After Lol breaks up with Chad, Kyle is extremely accommodating; they hang out, and do crazy things like make faces at each other from across the train platform. The romantic tension between the two is presumably a lot hotter than the movie leads on, but there's a problem: not only are Chad and Kyle best friends, but they're the front men in their own band.

Yes, the band consists of Chad, Kyle, Max and Lloyd. No, none of the girls are in the band. What do the girls do, besides standing in the front row of the concerts and mouthing along to light pop songs that make The Archies sound like The Sex Pistols?

Well, I'm glad you asked. The plot for LOL borrows heavily from another former Disney-starlet's filmography, which makes this not only an ungainly beast but a bizarrely unoriginal one. For anyone who has dabbled in the career of Hillary Duff, this film steals heavily from, not one, but four of her movies. Bits and pieces of The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Raise Your Voice, The Perfect Man, and even According to Greta filter into this, and, almost unbelievably in a few of the cases, much worse for the wear.

The important one in that list is The Perfect Man, which for those of you who are inclined to recall was the story of Hillary Duff finding her mom, played by Heather Locklear, a new shiny man so their lives could have meaning once more. LOL ups the ante; instead of having the daughter be the reasonable and mature one, neither mother (Demi Moore for this go around) nor daughter have any measure of control in their lives.

This film's commentary on social media goes about as far as "Boy, those kids sure do have iPhones these days!"

In fact, the director Lisa Azuelos carefully draws parallels to the two, insisting with her camerawork that adulthood is fairly identical to being a teenager. Lola smokes pot and hides it from her mom, her mom smokes pot and hides it from Lola. Her mother is going through a bad time with men, Lola is going through a bad time with men.

Their relationship became, at points, uncomfortable to watch. While mother-daughter bonds are often affectionate, it's rare you see one where the teenage daughter freely strips in front of her mom, or that most of their dramatic moments are punctuated with spooning and caressing of hair while eyes glaze over into distant thoughts. In one scene, where mom confronts Lola about her racy diary, the characters are so thinly separated that it comes across as jealousy rather than parental concern.

Thomas Jane shows up as Lola's dad, and mom's ex-husband. He says that the problem is that the mother is screwing Lola up with her new-fangled ideas in insisting that women should be allowed to treat men the way men treat women. First, this idea is about as new fangled as 1933, and second, he's apparently correct. The film is fairly damning in its portrayals of women-- though its portrayals of human beings in general isn't very flattering-- as they're simply irrational monsters who find satisfaction in drinking and drugs until a man finally arrives to pick them up and steer them towards true bliss.

With such a large cast, arrays of subplots appear and vanish with bizarre resolutions. Montages are lengthy, as our pretty cast trots out the latest teen fashions and has fun by jumping into fountains and buying things-- girls, fashion accessories, boys band equipment. Much is made of the character's grades in school, and no resolution is found: once Kyle and Chad shake hands, transferring ownership of Lola's sexual appendages from one to the other, and their musical group wins a recording contract at the Battle of the Bands, it's all out the window. Lola will be okay because Kyle will be a musician and they'll live happily ever after.

Contemplative or constipated?

Cyrus gets the job done, though far too much of her acting involves staring into space while her upper lip is stuck far enough up to reveal not only her pearly white teeth but a vast majority of her gums. The film is an obvious attempt to distance herself from a Disney image, and does a pretty decent job of that. Lola's life is awash in condoms and drugs, and Azuelos frames her in provocative clothing at every opportunity.

Even then, though, those are just visceral details, in a film that's about as sexy as a Sear's underwear ad. The character of Lola has such a simple quest to losing her virginity (Kyle has the depth of any common blade of grass) that it requires no chops to perform. There's no emotion needed when the film is barely an improvement on a 30-second spot for Abercrombie & Fitch.

The nicest way to describe LOL would be as a series of teen fashion commercials interspersed with a buffet of inept relationship drama. The accurate way would saying that it's a load of pat, unchallenging crap that insinuates heavily that feminism is dead, hurrah hurrah.

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Posted by Danny

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Just curious what the audience in the theater looked like for this one, assuming there was anyone else in the theater.

    • I almost mentioned this in my review. I was one of three people; the other two was an older woman and her adult daughter in a wheelchair. It was the emptiest theater I’ve been in in years.

  2. How did you manage to finish watching this is a mystery, I couldn’t get past the scene where she took her clothes off in front of her mom … Painful.

    To imagine that this is a REMAKE! of a French movie with the same name directed by the same woman and having a better score in IMDb (don’t know why, the movie seemed to be a copy of it) I am just left confused. One of those movies I didn’t finish watching. Not even sorry.

    • Well, I’ve only walked out of two or three movies in my life, and it was either this or nothing that week. I can almost see this film working in French– the mother’s part has some very Gaelic sensibilities– but the character of Lola never feels lived in in the American version, which sinks the whole enterprise.

      And by skipping out on the end, you missed nothing. Good decision.

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