Disney’s latest hot commodity, the young actress Lindsay Lohan, got good notices for “The Parent Trap” remake and last year’s delightful “Freaky Friday” remake. She’s being made to pay her dues, though, with “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” an insufferable quasi-comedy that will one day be nothing more than a blip on her otherwise respectable resume.
Based on a young-adult novel by Dyan Shelden, “Confessions” is about a 15-year-old Manhattanite named Mary (Lohan), though she prefers to go by Lola. Lola is indeed a drama queen, melodramatic in the extreme, always vying to be the center of attention, forever dressed in unusual outfits. She is either devastatingly insecure or stunningly over-confident, but the examination of such deep psychological questions is not on this movie’s agenda.
Lola’s life is thrown into turmoil when her artist mother (Glenne Headly), for undisclosed reasons, moves the family to the affluent suburb of Dellwood, N.J. Here Lola runs the gauntlet of high school clichÃ©s: Her only new friend is an unpopular girl, Ella (Alison Pill), and they are tormented by a trio of bitchy girls, led by pretty Carla Santini (Megan Fox).
(It’s been a while since I was 15, and I was never a teenage girl, but is it true that snotty girls always travel in threes, two of whom never speak but only look snide and laugh at their leader’s comments? And do they always make it a point to harass the new girl on her very first day? How do they know someone new has arrived? Do they get notices from the registrar’s office?)
Anyway, Lola sees the upcoming school play as a chance to establish herself as the rightful Center Of The Universe, so she auditions. It’s Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” but the dowdy director, Miss Baggoli (Carol Kane, loopy as always), has decided to update it and put original songs in it. Leave it to this movie to suggest a musical version of “Pygmalion” without acknowledging that such a thing has already been done, and that it was called “My Fair Lady.” Why don’t they just do “My Fair Lady”?
Anyway, she gets the Eliza role. You’d think that would be what the movie is about, but no! The movie has decided to forgo a traditional “plot” and instead present a random sequence of events. So Lola and Ella get very excited about an upcoming rock concert in Manhattan, and they will simply DIE if they don’t go, and Carla somehow got tickets to the after-party (don’t ask me how, considering it will be chock-full of booze and Carla is only 15), which means Lola and Ella simply HAVE to go to the party, too, and so on and so on.
The curious thing about the film, directed by Sara Sugarman and adapted by TV scribe Gail Parent, is that even at less than an hour and a half, it still feels absurdly padded. The story is minimal, and so is the character development, leaving plenty of time for irrelevant tangents and montages. There is Lola’s strange association with cute boy Sam (Eli Marienthal), who becomes her boyfriend without us realizing it, and a lot of clunky, awkward comedy involving the “Pygmalion” production.
If there is a likable character in the bunch, it’s Ella, Lola’s nervous, uptight friend, who endears herself to us with a minimum of histrionics and a smattering of intelligence. Lola, on the other hand, is too flighty and dramatic to be tolerated, and the “lessons” she learns over the course of the film are both obvious and minor. It’s a slice-of-life movie about a character who barely resembles anything in life, making it an exercise in futility to try to slice it.
Will the target audience of teenage girls like it? Maybe. The audience I saw it with was packed with them, and while they laughed occasionally, I can’t honestly say it appeared to be a big hit. But who knows, maybe they were enjoying it quietly while I was disliking it less quietly.
D (1 hr., 26 min.; )