Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Lisa Azuelos
Stars: Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, Douglas Booth, Ashley Greene, Adam G Sevani, Ashley Hinshaw, George Finn, Thomas Jane, Jay Hernandez, Fisher Stevens, Gina Gershon, Nora Dunn, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Austin Nichols, Marlo Thomas.
LOL (Laughing Out Loud) is a bland Hollywood remake of the enjoyable 2008 French coming of age drama of the same name, which was a hit at the French box office. Writer/director Lisa Azuelos has relocated the material to Chicago, but the themes are fairly universal. LOL explores teenagers finding themselves through conflict, angst, troubled romance, relationships, peer pressure, sex, drugs, music. But the film also explores the communication gap between today’s youth and their often cold, distant, authoritarian or plain unsympathetic parents who have forgotten their own youthful misadventures. Unfortunately this is a fairly unoriginal and uninspired remake, as it lacks the spark of the original.
Azuelos and co-writer Kamir Ainouz have packed in lots of subplots and cliched characters to unnecessarily pad out the narrative, and it ultimately comes across like a tv soap opera, albeit with lusher productions values and ensemble cast. Azuelos has assembled an ensemble cast to flesh out the vast array of characters. Many of the good looking, attractive youthful performers are largely unknown, and many look as though they have wandered in from the set of Gossip Girl or any number of other television soap operas aimed at the adolescent demographic.
The cast is headed by Miley Cyrus, who seems to be trying to shake off her wholesome Hannah Montana image here as Lola Williams who is dealing with a number of romantic upheavals. Returning to school after the summer break Lola is disappointed when her longtime boyfriend Chad (George Finn, from the short-lived reboot of Beverly Hills 90210, etc) admits to having a fling with another girl at summer camp. Lola wrestles with her confused emotions, and although she is attracted to the sensitive musician Kyle (Douglas Booth, from the epic miniseries Pillars Of The Earth, etc) she is reluctant to commit to a relationship on the rebound. She spends a lot of time with social networking tools to keep in touch with her BFFs, which hardly moves the plot forward.
Meanwhile, Kyle is finding it hard to deal with his stern and demanding father, who doesn’t approve of his interest in music or his choice of friends. And Lola’s best friend Emily (Ashley Hinshaw) also finds love with the nerdy Max (Adam G Sevani, from the Step Up series of films, etc), although she tries to keep the relationship a secret.
Demi Moore plays Anne, Lola’s divorced and harried mother, who is trying to manage three daughters. By turns sympathetic and stern, she is also at a loss how to deal with Lola’s volatile moods and acts of rebellion, which reaches a crisis when Anne accidentally reads Lola’s diary. Anne finds herself drawn toward James (Jay Hernandez), the handsome narcotics cop she meets outside the courthouse, which adds a more mature touch of romance to the material. While the relationship between Lola and Anne forms the crux of the film, there are many other subplots that detract.
Fisher Stevens, Gina Gershon and Nora Dunn round out the cast as other parents who compare notes on their offspring. Thomas Jane plays Anne’s former husband who can’t quite let go, and Marlo Thomas (from 70s tv sitcom That Girl, etc) brings some misjudged touches of humour to the film through her role as Anne’s hard drinking mother.
Cinematographer Kieran McGuigan (The Other Boleyn Girl, etc) has used the Chicago locations well to add atmosphere, although a school trip to Paris offers some diverting scenery.
LOL was released to cinemas without previews, which is never a good sign. Audiences would probably do well to track down the French original instead of this misguided remake.