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Alex Stroup, editor

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

Teen queen Lindsay Lohan stars in new Disney flick

Friday, February 20, 2004
by Alex Stroup, staff writer

Let me just get the disclaimers out of the way. I am a 30-year-old cynical, childless man. I am about as far away from the intended audience of this movie as you could possibly get while remaining a vertebrate.

You might want to take that into account—that's all I'm saying.


©Buena Vista Distribution.

So, as the lights dimmed in the theater, I cleared my mind and tried to go back to a time when Patrick Dempsey represented the everyteen and Can't Buy Me Love (1987) really had something important to say.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is a pre-teen fantasy movie. Really, it has everything the 12-year-old could hope for. They're represented by 15-year-old Mary Cep (Lindsay Lohan). Though, Mary would really prefer to be called Lola, because that fits her better.

Lohan, as with her Freaky Friday (2002) character, is again playing the safely rebellious teenager that is found only in movies and the naïve imaginations of pre-adolescents. Mary/Lola is sure that she is destined to be a star someday, and is traumatized when her mother moves the family out of New York City to the mortifyingly suburban Dellwood, New Jersey.

As with all such movies, she quickly finds a friend in a fellow loner (Ella, played by Alison Pill), a potential bad-boy boyfriend (Eli Marienthal), and a conflict with the school's most popular girl, Carla (Megan Fox).

Unlike most such films, Lola doesn't go through a phase of trying to fit in only to learn in the end that you have to be who you are. Instead, Lola is what every girl wants to be: confident in herself and the idea that people will like you anyway.

It should give you a sense of the Brady Bunch fantasy involved that the primary concern of half the student body seems to be the casting of the school play. Even though Lola is scandalized at the thought of doing an modernized Pygmalion (as if that play hadn't already been updated a 100 times) she tries out for the Eliza Doolittle role and earns the true enmity of Carla by getting it.

Surrounding all of this is the intense love that Lola and Ella have for a band called Sidarthur, the lead singer of which Lola considers the best thing since Shakespeare and a poet who has touched her soul.

When it is announced that Sidarthur is breaking up, we head into the lesson-learning phase of the movie. There's going to be one final concert and then a big after-party at lead singer's (Adam Garcia) home. Of course, Carla's father has connections and she's already invited to both, and taunts Lola with it. Lola tells a lie, then tells more lies to make the first lie not a lie, and things snowball from there.

Pretty standard stuff.

Standard stuff can be good though. Freaky Friday was good. Lindsay Lohan continues to present a fine chemistry (though she is already looking a little too mature to be playing 15), but there just isn't much to work with. While her character is much more self-assured than usual for such a film, Lola never really faces much adversity, which renders facile what little personal growth she goes through.


The ever present evil popular girls. ©Buena Vista Distribution.

To the extent that anybody is worth highlighting, it is Alison Pill as Lola's friend Ella. Ella has similar sensibilities as Lola, but has lived her whole life in suburban conformity and hasn't the courage to break out.

While her character is no more real than Lohan's, Pitt does get to display a range of emotions and gets most of the funny lines. Combined with a contagious smile, the movie is definitely better when she's onscreen.

Throughout the movie, we're reminded of Lohan's musical aspirations. In Freaky Friday, she was limited to just a couple of performances. The school production of “Eliza Rocks!”, unfortunately, gives several additional changes for Lohan to strut her stuff. In the closing credits, it seems like two dozen songs were performed by her.

It isn't that she's bad (simply unremarkable), but it thoroughly distracts from the movie and feels like a blatant attempt to sell CDs. After the logical end of the movie, there is still a 10-minute mini-concert as we are shown what a high school with a 3,000-seat auditorium and a touring-company set and costume budget can do to Pygmalion. Frankly, I didn't much care by that point.

But to the fantasies of the young, the idea that a bunch of high school kids are going to produce such a polished production may be what makes it worth watching.

Patrick Dempsey never did much for me, so I surely wouldn't understand.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Alex here.


MOVIE DETAILS

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is a Touchstone Pictures release.

Wide theatrical release: Friday, February 20, 2004

Directed by Sara Sugarman.

Screenplay by Gail Parent.

Rated PG.

Running time: 86 minutes

Alex's Rating: 5 out of 10

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Stroup is a degreed librarian with an undergraduate degree in history. An avid reader, movie buff, and devoted “information junkie,” Alex currently lives and works in the Northern California Bay Area. Alex is also the CEO of MousePlanet.

Click here to contact Alex.

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