Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 2012. Double Feature Films, Lol Productions, Mandate Pictures, PIC Agency. Screenplay by Lisa Azuelos, Kamir Ainouz, based on the film LOL [Laughing Out Loud] by Lisa Azuelos, Nans Delgado. Cinematography by Kieran McGuigan. Produced by Tish Cyrus, Esteban Martin, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher. Music by Rob Simonsen. Production Design by Happy Massee. Costume Design by Hope Hanafin. Film Editing by Myron I. Kerstein.
Lisa Azuelos translates her French film success for Hollywood audiences in the hopes of displaying the universality of teen issues and the exasperation of grownups trying to raise them. Miley Cyrus steps into the lead as the high school kid navigating boys, while mom Demi Moore (filling in for Sophie Marceau) is caught between her ex-husband, a new younger beau and the fact that her daughter is determined to defy her at every step. While issues between family members couldn’t possibly be easier to share from one culture to the next, something that does not translate nearly as well is humour, which means that the ironic, farce-like nature of Azuelos’ crowd-pleaser comes off awkward and clunky when set in modern-day Chicago (and for some reason filmed in Detroit). It also can’t decide between being a star vehicle for its popular headliner or an ensemble piece about Kids Today: Cyrus begins the film getting dumped and develops a romance with best friend Douglas Booth, her story bookending the narrative while Moore is romanced by a hot cop and Cyrus’s friends have romantic issues of their own. A supporting cast that also includes Marlo Thomas, Gina Gershon and Fisher Stevens is equally baffling in this unmitigated mess overrun by bad acting and terrible dialogue. Cyrus’ aggressive sexuality when performing as a pop icon is effective, her completely unnatural confidence the natural result of a life spent entirely in show business, while as an actor her attempts to seem like a real person with the unreasonable vulnerabilities that come with youth read completely dishonest and plastic (not to mention the fact that she’s a terrible actress and an opaquely unlikeable presence). That said, the film is so terrible that the actors can only be held to so much account before one realizes that anyone would fail in this situation.