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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Sean McNamara
scr Susan Estelle Jansen
with Nathalia Ramos, Skyler Shaye, Janel Parrish, Logan Browning, Chelsea Staub, Jon Voight, Lainie Kazan, Stephen Lunsford, Ian Nelson, Emily Rose Everhard, Kim Morgan Greene, Kadeem Hardison
release US 3.Aug.07, UK 17.Aug.07
Best friends forever: Ramos, Browning, Shaye and Parrish
In adapting the cartoon to live-action, the filmmakers have gone below the lowest common denominator, aiming a teenage story at 8-year-old girls. It's clunky, condescending and insulting, but 8-year-olds will still love the colourful wackiness.
Yasmin, Cloe, Jade and Sasha (Ramos, Shaye, Parrish and Browning) are four buddies who head off to high school together and are immediately confronted by clique society, which divides them based on their interests in music, sport, science and cheerleading, respectively. Two years later (!) they finally realise they need to stand up to the school-ruling Meredith (Staub), daughter of the befuddled principal (Voight), and crush the divisive system. And there will be plenty of opportunities, as Meredith throws her second sweet 16 party and plots to win the annual talent show.
Despite referencing such astute teen comedies as Mean Girls and Election, this film has one of the laziest scripts imaginable, shamelessly skimming the surface to tell a wafer-thin story about fashion and lip gloss that undermines its muddled "stick together and be yourselves" pseudo-message. Along the way, it insults anyone in the audience who has a brain, especially if they're Latino, deaf, musical or from a broken family.
It also panders to the very young in the audience, delighting them with trampy fashions, obsessively set-decorated bedrooms and exceedingly thin girls who are made-up and hair-extended to look like they're 35. The girls are all smiley and glamorous, the boys dreamy and soulful, the adults goofy and clueless. The high school is a cheerfully bizarre cross between Shawshank, 1984 and Circus Circus. There's a constant song underscore and endlessly sassy dialog.
And yet there's no edge to the film at all, gosh darnit! So the young girls who will be delighted with all this pink fluffiness are being lulled to sleep while they're sold clothing, records and make-up by the truckload. They won't notice the lame plotting, clunky editing, cheap stereotyping and excruciatingly over-stretched running time. Perhaps the adults who accompany them will be glad a movie entertained the giggling kiddies so much, but they should be ashamed of themselves for not paying closer attention, painful as that may be.
Frederik Nissen, Denmark: "I watched this movie to see how bad it was. I felt like destroying something beautiful when it finished. This is the worst movie I have ever seen. I hope Sean McNamara will never ever make movies so I can mend my tormented mind. My eyes!" (11.Aug.07)
Amy McDonald, America: "This movie was horrible! It made no sense, especially the fact that the character Dylan is deaf and can read lips so well that he can tell what you're saying even if you're not facing him! Sooo, the movie was dumb. I just wanted to have a laugh at it, so ha ha!" (17.Oct.07)
Litle Guy, New Zealand: "As a adult i couldnt stand it,yes it was bubblegum, condesending to anyone over the age of 12, but the point all serious critics are missing is that little girls love it, ask them what they thought, i know my 9yr old and her friends,BFF loved it,as did the other girls she knows who saw it,i have to question the (professional)reviewers who take themselves so seriously its rediculous, and how many FIlms have they Produced/Directed? easy to be a armchair critic, what qualifications do you need? know your 7 x 'genres' yeah right, maybe crtics should try not defining films just by there genre's? or is that too hard?" (13.Nov.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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