By: Addison Wylie
LOL, a film starring Miley Cyrus directed by Lisa Azuelos, is wildly inconsistent. It’s consistently inconsistent. I didn’t think such a thing would be possible. But, what’s even more confusing, is how badly Azuelos has dropped the ball.
LOL is the North American remake of a French film she made earlier in her career called LOL (Laughing Out Loud). Having not seen the original and only reading the plot synopsis online, LOL (Laughing Out Loud) dealt with the same issues and similar characters with familiar turning points.
When a foreign film like this is remade, it should make us want to seek out the original and either compare each film side-by-side or see how the storytelling has differed between a French film and a fluffy Amercian teen dramedy. LOL fails to make us want to commit to this task.
We don’t want anything to do with any version of LOL because Azuelos’ remake film coats on having as little long-running plot as possible. Once the film settles on a main conflict, it gets bored with itself, weakly wraps the problem up, and churns out the next possible complication for the characters on screen. The film doesn’t end so much as the school year ends and the movie fades to black.
Let’s start at the beginning with Lola (played by Cyrus). Cyrus has the unfortunate task of setting the scene using lazily written and unfunny narration, but this introduction presents each teenager so the audience can keep up. These main actors are pushed in our faces so often that we forget there are other students at this school.
Azuelos and her cameramen are far too focused on getting younger fans to recognize the familiar faces of Cyrus and Ashley Greene (from the Twilight saga) as well as the moody expressions each male lead gives off. No cutaways of other students mingling or teachers walking from class to class. This first scene focusing on all the pretty faces is shot in one uncut shot, suggesting to me that the filmmaking style has obviously trumped logic or authenticity. We’re three and a half minutes into this film, people. Hold on.
We then meet Lola’s Mom (played by Demi Moore) as well as her siblings. The introductory scene for this clan is highly troubling because of how little is explained and how even less is recognized after the scene unfolds.
Lola arrives home after a long, angst filled day at school. She walks into her bathroom to see her Mom and the youngest, grade school daughter having a bath together and splashing each other. Moore and Cyrus have a conversation like normal, Cyrus strips off her clothes and heads for the shower (in another part of the big bathroom).
The Mom character makes a comment about Lola’s pubic hair which offends Lola not so much because of the nosiness of the question, but because she just wanted to have a relaxing shower and hang out with her family and now, she can’t do that.
The scene ends with a post-bath Moore receiving a text message from Lola asking for a hug and the two spoon in bed as if “the mystery of the pubic hair” never commenced.
The biggest screenwriting misdemeanour at hand is how the elephant in the room is never explained nor recognized. The scene, right off the bat, is wanting to tell us just how comfortable Lola and her Mom are with each other but….c’mon, movie!
There are subtler ways of showing this just by having a simple conversation between the two. In fact, you were on to something with the quiet spooning scene. It’s just too bad an unintentional creepy scene precedes that moment..
It feels like Lola goes through an entire rolodex of problems. Her boyfriend has cheated on her, she slowly falls for her friend Kyle. Kyle is also in a band with the cheating boyfriend and is also dealing with a Father who does not appreciate his musical abilities and is especially against the upcoming and climactic Battle of the Bands (I’ll let you guess where this one goes…)
Lola’s virginity is often discussed, she may not be able to go on the school trip to Paris, France because of a party she threw that was littered with booze and joints, the relationship between Lola and Kyle comes to a halt when a misunderstanding takes place.
Of course, LOL is supposed to be a slice-of-teenage-life showing audiences just how complicated and action-packed high school life can be when you look and act like a Disneyfied actor.
And, that’s the problem as well. Not one young lead feels like they “are” a teen in an inner city high school and not one adult feels like they “are” the parents of these distracted kids. Instead, the cast is very self aware of what their roles are. The teens must all either be bubbly or soaking in the melodrama around them while the adults must be confused all the time and be too straight-laced for these wacky teens.
Even though the actors seem to understand the broad strokes beneath their character, they are baffled by their motivations.
For that matter, it feels like Azuelos may be confused as well, even though she’s working off her own blueprint.
Key moments are explained in mishandled and overlong montages never giving movie goers clear answers because Azuelos, and her screenwriting partner in crime Kamir Aïnouz, aren’t sure how to explain these events any other way. If the vapid narration was ever in need during LOL, it would be here.
And then, there’s the whole complication of putting Miley Cyrus in a more adult vehicle while also keeping her image clean. There are multiple times where Lola is labeled as a pothead but whenever marijuana is shown, Cyrus is nowhere near the joint.
Cyrus swears but only with certain words while others are mouthed during crowd scenes.
Even if all the other characters knocked their performances out of the park, Cyrus would still be vying for this success because of this non-stop looming cautionary approach to her more adult roles. Is it because her Mother Tish Cyrus served as a producer on LOL? Is it a personal choice of Cyrus’? No one really knows. Eventually, whoever is causing the frustration is going to have to take a risk and take the plunge without tiptoeing around issues like drugs or sex.
Something isn’t gelling with Lisa Azuelos’ LOL and Lions Gate, the film’s distributor, knows that. Originally set for a wide release, LOL’s run was drastically cut down to a smaller engagement and, in the US, was dumped into theatres at the same time The Avengers was conquering the box office.
Because of this business move, I can now forgive Lions Gate for all those countless Saw sequels and any comedy starring Dane Cook.