So Undercover (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
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So Undercover (2013)

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Undercover perksAndrew INDIFFERENCE BannerThere were two moments that I felt something while I watched So Undercover.  The first was a situational gag involving Miley Cyrus distracting a guard crocodile with a bag of chips in a scene with some very stilted movement as the bag had to be either animated or awkwardly cut into the croc's mouth.  I chuckled slightly because it's the kind of shoddy special effect that's I find charming, a moment so strangely staged and assembled that it's clear someone really wanted this shot in the movie.

The other moment is far more disconcerting and outright sad involving the plummeting star of Jeremy Piven.  I realize the man has never been a box-office draw and his taste in movie roles is typically horrid, but he's always had this weird mix of cocky and vulnerable that I found endearing.  That charisma concoction faltered terribly in a role that consisted entirely of leering at girls who are almost a third his age.  It's hard to pull some likability out of a scenario that involves sending talented private investigators to report on the sex lives of possible spies.

Mayhap director Tom Vaughn thought that there might be some light amusement but there's nothing in So Undercover that approaches life.  Aside from those two moments the rest of the film occupied a negative space where I felt neither happy nor upset that it continued.  It exists as an eternal testament to the indifference of star vehicles where no faith, talent, or thought is put into producing something of quality.

Outrageous costumes and very little energy.

Molly's training consists of a world with "outrageous" costumes and very little energy.

So Undercover follows the fish out of water formula as if it were gospel.  Molly (Cyrus) is a PI along with her father (Mike O'Malley) who specializes in catching high-profile citizens in flagrante delico.  Odd family implications aside, their job is a relatively safe and legally questionable one as Molly breaks into a senator's hotel room early on then proceeds to beat him with his own golf club after he chases her with an understandable rage in his movements.  However, careful not to make Molly too much of a loose cannon, the film thankfully shows her riding a motorcycle down the street with a helmet and color filters.

With no tone established Vaughn goes ahead and gets the plot rolling with Piven's voyeuristic Agent Armon.  He wants to hire Molly to go undercover at a sorority to track down Georgian spies who want to do something bad to America.  Papa disappears into the role of pater ex machina and flees the stage to leave Molly in the hands of skilled folks who teach her to act like a sorority girl, respond to rudeness with "That was totes inappropes", and carry around the proper accessories like extra large condoms.

All of this is played by Cyrus and presented by Vaughn with the skill and joy of a sweat shop employee.  Just a little bit of energy then many scenes might approach offensive and if they were full-kilter it could at least be classified as weird.  But no, the flat medium shots of Vaughn and distractingly bored performance by Cyrus is all I got.  The void continued on as Cyrus and company reenacted the low points of the Big Momma's House series replacing dangerously energetic cops with bored spies.

Jeremy Piven is a walking case-study in misapplied potential.

Jeremy Piven is a walking case-study of disastrously applied potential.

I couldn't muster up enough energy to dislike the movie because it barely cared about its own existence and I would much rather watch something I outright hate.  The universe seemed to have shared in my indifference.  It was filmed in 2010 during the weird period where spies were placed into scenarios where very little espionage would be needed (see also: Knight and Day and Killers).  The movie was unceremoniously dumped overseas in late 2012 before finally coming out in America on DVD this week.

Crippling apathy aside, I also have never been able to get behind Miley Cyrus as a performer.  Fellow Disney alum Hilary Duff may be worse but that's only because I've seen effort behind Duff's performances.  Cyrus is the perpetual cardboard cutout of a blandly inoffensive pop personality and her entire film career has been based on this an extension.

Now it seems Cyrus can't even buy into her own boring story anymore.

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So Undercover - TailSo Undercover (2013)

Directed by Tom Vaughn.
Screenplay written by Allan Loeb and Steven Pearl.
Starring Miley Cyrus and Jeremy Piven.

Posted by Andrew

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