Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) / Comedy-Family
MPAA Rated: PG for mild language
Running Time: 89 min.
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Alison Pill, Megan Fox, Adam Garcia, Glenne Headly, Carol Kane, Eli Marienthal, Tom McCamus, Sheila McCarthy, Richard Fitzpatrick
Director: Sara Sugarman
Screenplay: Gail Parent (based on the book by Dyan Sheldon)
Teenage girls may find a soft spot for Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, but very few outside of that demographic need apply. It's colorful, energetic, with an attractive cast, but at the same time, it's vapid and disposable. Possibly the biggest appeal here is to see Lindsay Lohan, who scored big in other Disney hits like The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. Certainly her performance will please her biggest fans, as she acts, dances and sings throughout the film, although one can only wonder what such outfits are doing in the middle of a Disney film (high school has changed a lot since my time, I suppose). Based on a book of the same name by Dyan Sheldon, the story isn't a bad one, even if it holds very few surprises. The real problem is the frenetic direction never lets you rest, constantly bombarding you with rainbows of colors, imaginative daydream sequences, music filling every scene, and sped-up and slowed-down action. The characters get lost in the visual and aural shuffle, and without characters we can relate to, Confessions loses any chance at the resonance it strives for in the later stages of the story.
Lohan plays Mary Cep, although she tells everyone her name is the more exotic "Lola", a 15-year-old forced to move with her divorced mother from her favorite place in the world, New York City, to just the opposite, New Jersey. She feels like a fish out of water in this less-than-artsy world, but she regards all life as a stage, so she is determined to make the best of the situation. This does cause some ruffled feathers among the popular and snobby clique in the school, led by rich bitch Carla (Fox, "Hope & Faith") , who has her eye in the lead of the school play. Not to be outdone, Lola goes for the same role, and lands it, but not without a price, as Carla refuses to relent in the competition on who is the best in everything that counts (for teenage girls at least). Lola's all-time favorite rock band in the world, Sidarthur, is about to put on their final concert performance, and anyone who's anyone will be there. Carla will be there, but without a ticket, will Lola be able to retain her dignity after she claims to have a pass to the gig?
As you can see from the plot summary, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen isn't exactly looking to tackle any serious issues, staying on the path of what most teenage girls have anxiety about -- boys, friends, popularity, and acceptance among peers. Along those lines, the dialogue and confrontations have some interesting connotations, and had there been a little more attempts at making the characters well-rounded, this certainly could have been a modestly successful vehicle for Lohan.
The cast puts in their all, but Confessions still ends up being a disjointed affair, as director Sara Sugarman (Mad Cows, Very Annie Mary) is more interested in pumping up the fun excesses of the production. If you watch very feminine films for wardrobe changes, colorful sets and fashions, and music montages, this film may be right up your alley, as Sugarman tosses all the frills you can take at you in unrelenting fashion. Personally speaking, I felt a bit of nausea at the overload of glitz and gloss, desperate for a moment of peace, calm and tranquility, never finding one until the closing credits finally freed me from the clutches of Sugarman's sugary pastel and polish world.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is a film that would be more at home playing on the Disney channel than as a big motion picture release, but they did manage to cast Lohan as a result and the film did make some modest profit in the theaters. Again, this is a movie with a very defined target audience, so if you aren't a young woman still in grade school, you'll probably have a difficult time discerning where the story is here. Nice performances almost carry it, but cotton candy entertainment like this only satisfies for the moment, and certainly does little to fill your hunger for something more substantial.
©2005 Vince Leo