Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)

reviewed by
Laura Clifford


CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN ------------------------------------

When Mary Cep (Lindsay Lohan, "Freaky Friday") discovers her mother is moving the family from her beloved Manhattan to New Jersey, first she freaks out, then she renames herself Lola to gild her theatrical presence for her new, drabber surroundings. On her first day at Dellwood High, Lola finds a friend in the straight and unpopular but fellow Sidarthur enthusiast Ella (Alison Pill, "Pieces of April"), makes an enemy in clique queen Carla Santini (Megan Fox), whose father is Sidarthur lead singer Stu Wolff's lawyer, and attracts an admirer in Sam (Eli Marienthal, "American Pie"). Lola's outlandish adventures spur Carla to brand her a liar as the duo battle over the lead in the school play and invitations to the after show party of Sidarthur's last concert in "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen."

Disney is promoting "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" by associating it with last year's delightful "Freaky Friday" remake, but the only similarity between the two films is star Lindsay Lohan. Director Sara Sugarman ("Very Annie Mary") has delivered a teen film that is shrill, numbing and painful to sit through. Maybe this movie will find an audience in children young enough to be entertained by bright colors. Otherwise, only Carol Kane ("Addams Family Values") provides entertainment with her odd but sweet drama teacher, Miss Baggoli, a woman whose appearance may be stuck in the 1940s, but whose directorial predilection is to modernize "Pygmalion."

Screenwriter Gail Parent (TV's "Payne") makes her heroine a highly competitive individual whose exploits must be believed by others to give them any weight. She befriends those who will not outshine her, but is magnanimous to those whom she betters. The drama queen angle is only intermittently played for middling laughs, all mother Karen's (Glenne Headly, "Dick Tracy") for her wry play-by-plays over the telephone to ex-husband Calum (Tom McCamus). Lola makes one elaboration that comes back to haunt her, covering her parents' split with a romantic story of her father's death. (Seeing as how Lola apparently loves her dad, this is an odd choice for her to make, to say the least.) Lola's egocentric view of the world also means that any real sense of family life is unaccounted for her and her obvious romantic interest merely stands around and smiles a lot.

Lohan is a likeable young actress who gets an opportunity to show off her singing and dancing talents here, but her enthusiasm fails to spark this dreadful film. Pill, so fabulous in "Pieces of April," is OK here as a voice of reason who gradually comes out of her shell under Lola's influence, but the script forces her to be a bit of a wet blanket. Headly's laid back performance almost makes her disappear amidst the chaos, but McCamus injects some warmth as Lola's dad, who shadows her while she traipses about the city on concert night. Adam Garcia ("Coyote Ugly") gives an overly broad performance as Lola's hero Stu Wolff, perhaps to lessen the reality of an alcohol abusing rock star within this little girl's fantasy film. Sheila McCarthy ("I Heard the Mermaids Singing") is wasted as Ella's disapproving mother, but Kane hits one out of the park as the strict and severe spinster Baggoli (kudos also due to costumer David C. Robinson and hairstylist Veronica Ciandre in realizing this character).

Sugarman and cinematographer Stephen H. Burum ("Life or Something Like It") employ a bit of live action mixed with animation shots, but they aren't used consistently enough to give the film a style. The final climatic high school production of "Eliza Rocks" is the epitome of the overblown 'Broadway comes to your local school hall' stagings that have become so cliched. Granted, we are supposed to be seeing things through Lola's enhanced reality, but even after the play appears to have come to its conclusion, the show continues with an MTV number complete with professional backup dancers that would have been more appropriate accompanying the closing credits.

This is Disney's worst outing in recent memory. With "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" they have much to atone for.

D

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