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Saturday, September 22, 2012

UNDISCOVERED -- movie review by porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared online at way back in 2005.)

The dog rides a skateboard!

I'm serious! She pushes it along with one paw, and then jumps on and whizzes down the street! Holy smokes! It's freakin' awesome! The DOG rides a freakin' SKATEBOARD!

And when she rounds the corner and disappears, then the last thing that might possibly elicit any interest in the movie known as UNDISCOVERED (2005) also disappears. But I'll always have that memory--the dog rides a skateboard. (sigh)

And now, the review proper:

Aspiring musician Luke Falcon (yes, that's really his name in the movie) encounters a woman on the subway who is REALLY HOT, according to the script. Her name is Brier (Yes! Holy gosh, yes! That's really her name!) and she's a model, and she thinks he's really hot too! But before they can consummate their bond of mutual hotness, a closing subway door comes between them. Brier picks up a glove that Luke has dropped and holds it up. "You dropped your glove!" she astutely observes. Luke, being the quintessential romantic guy that women who read romance novels swoon over, immediately throws the other glove at her just as the door slams shut. Oh, my garsh! He's the king of the "meet-cute"!

I first encountered the term "meet-cute" thanks to Roger Ebert. I think he made it up, but I could be wrong. Anyway, to me it seems as though as soon as Roger identified the phenomenon of the "meet-cute" then sensible filmmakers would begin to avoid it lest they be accused of indulging in cliche'. But not the makers of this film. They embraced it. They began their film with a classic, nerve-wracking, teeth-grinding "meet-cute."

Not only that, but right afterward Luke informs his brother that he has been "smitten." Guys, how many times have you ever told another guy that you've just been "smitten"? Enough times to get your ass kicked? Well, just minutes into the movie it's overwhelmingly apparent that Luke should get his ass kicked but good, but he doesn't. He's too busy moving to L.A. to pursue a career as a rock star. A rock star that you may listen to, but not me, because his songs suck. Oh, my gompers, do they suck. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Guess what? Brier's moving to L.A., too. She's a model, but she wants to be an actress, so she's going to take acting lessons and try to break into the acting business. Can she act? Only as well as the actress playing her, which, unfortunately, means "no." But who cares, because--oh, joy--one of her fellow acting students is none other than Ashlee Simpson! Yippee! It just keeps getting better!

Can Ashlee act? That's a pretty interesting and important question, since acting would seem to be a real career booster for her. Lots of successful singers have become big-time actresses, thus bolstering their "double-threat" entertainment value. Will Ashlee be one of them? No, she won't. Her acting style consists of goofy smiles, googly eyes, and coy, cutesy expressions. But it fits right into this coy, cutesy movie, so all's right with the world, eh? Harrumph!

Well, in a nod to cinematic believability, it turns out that Ashlee (or Clea, as she in known in the movie) is Luke's best friend, and she takes Brier to the nightclub where Luke is performing his insanely crappy songs. Yes, that's right -- two strangers who had a brief "meet-cute" in New York and then seperately moved to L.A. just happen to run into each other just as soon as they get there. Why, it's fate! Or bad writing, or something.

But there's Luke (played by Steven Strait, now appearing as "Stevie" in the Starz series "Magic City"), singing his boring widdle butt off in a nightclub while record company executive Fisher Stevens (a welcome sight since he's the only person I recognize so far besides Carrie Fisher, and he actually sorta knows how to act) describes him in a manner that I can readily agree with: "This guy here...he sings from his heart. I wanna throw up."

Anyway, Luke (whom Clea describes as a cross between Jeff Buckley and Elvis Costello, although Jeff Foxworthy and Lou Costello would be more apt musical comparisons) seeks to resume his aborted acquaintance with the lovely and talented (OMG!) Brier ("When are we gonna break outta the 'friend zone'?", he asks -- no, really!), but she rejects his romantic advances because she just can't seem to shake her squishy feelings for the genuine big-time rock star she's been dating. That is, the grunge relic who cheats on her with a succession of groupies and doesn't call her for months at a time. Oh, good choice, Brier.

But Clea talks some sense into her, or at least what she can manage to approximate as sense ("I don't think you fall out of love until you fall into someone else" she actually says, which I can't believe wasn't the official tagline for this movie), and they both suddenly devise a brilliant plan to create such a buzz about Luke that he will become an honest-to-goodness big-time rock star for real! And THERE'S THE SET-UP! TA-DAAAA!

Brier calls her former modeling agent, played by the unfortunate Carrie Fisher, to help out with the big Luke Falcon publicity blitz. Carrie is older and plumper than she was in her Princess Leia days (not that there's anything wrong with that), and appears to be less than ecstatic about being seen in this huge, gobbling turkey. She's probably wishing that Han Solo would swoop into the frame and lug her away. Or at least shoot her.

Well, things trudge boringly along after that--Luke's hot for some committed-relationship action, but Brier keeps vaccillatin', Luke loses his record deal, etc.--I don't want to spoil the plot for you, blah blah blah, and after some more stuff happens, there's a sickly-sweet happy ending. There's always a happy ending in these stories, right? Except for THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, one of the worst teen comedies ever made, which, incredibly, is better than UNDISCOVERED.

That movie had a very, very sad ending, but it made me very happy since I couldn't stand Lawrence Monoson, the blubbering idiot who starred in it. But that's neither here nor there, although for some reason talking about one really bad movie inspires me to yap about all the other bad movies that have contributed to the living hell that is life on this here fab-u-licious Earth of ours.

On the technical side: the meandering camerawork seems to have been done by a near-sighted wino with ADD, because he keeps wandering around finding interest in other things besides the actors. And someone keeps screwing around with the focus, too. Is this what they call "MTV-style" cinematography? If it is, then MTV sucks. I could find three-year-old kids who could handle a camera better than this.

The editing, of course, is an entirely different thing altogether. That is, what is meant to represent editing in this film is entirely different from whatever is generally known in film circles as "editing." But what the hell--as long as the kids get their "MTV-style" fix, if indeed that's what they're looking for when they go to the movies, then here it is. Total crap, wrapped up in a badly directed, poorly edited "MTV-style" package--so EAT IT, KIDS! YUM-YUM!

Watching this filmic endeavor, I kept being reminded of another really bad movie that seared itself onto my cerebral cortex several years ago--IF EVER I SEE YOU AGAIN, the magnum opus of producer/director/writer/composer/star Joe Brooks of YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE fame. Both movies are really, really BAD-bad, both feature sappy love stories with plenty of awful, grinning-like-a-loon, super-duper cutesy-poo bad acting and blood-curdling music, and both left me feeling as though I had just been fished out of a vat of toxic chemicals at the Axis Chemical Company. It's not often that I compare a movie to IF EVER I SEE YOU AGAIN, my personal fixation of total, gibbering cinematic horror, but in this case I'm going to make an exception. UNDISCOVERED is just as bad. It's the IF EVER I SEE YOU AGAIN of a new generation.

I should probably say something in conclusion, even though I think I've already pretty much said everything I wanted to say about this movie, so I'll end with one of those cleverly snarky movie review-type comments: "UNDISCOVERED is a movie that should REMAIN undiscovered!" (LOL!) But, to be fair, it wasn't a total loss. There was, after all, the skateboarding dog. HOLY STUPID PET TRICKS! THE DOG RIDES A SKATEBOARD! YEEE-HAAAA!!!

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