Teen movies will never go out of style. From American Pie to Larry Clarke’sKids, being neither adult nor child anymore is a right of passage we must all go through. Those awkward fumbling first sexual encounters, those developing hormones that throw your entire world out of whack, growing up is tough. Of course it’s probably easier when your mum is a free spirited Demi Moore, all your friends look like models out of a catalogue and you live in the fancy part of Chicago.
Lola (Miley Cyrus) is your typical high school girl; she hangs with friends, dabbles in class-c drugs, friendlies up to her mum Anne (Demi Moore) and is more interested in boys than she is homework. But when her emo looking boyfriend Chad (George Finn) cheats on her she’s left devastated. That is until she realises she has feelings for hers and Chad’s best friend Kyle (Douglas Booth). The course of young love never did run smooth though and while her best friend Emily (Ashley Hinshaw) flirts with her math teacher, Lola learns that her mum has started seeing her dad, Allen (Thomas Jane), again.
For members of the Twilight generation (it even stars Twilight alumni Ashley Greene) LOL will surely be a resounding success. It’s rife with all manner of typical teen pit-falls and certainly ticks the boxes in the troublesome teenage years. But you wonder what kind of message co-writer and director Lisa Azuelos is sending when Anne asks Lola if she has had a Brazilian wax done, before later happily smoking a joint while her teenager daughter does the same upstairs in secret. Who is this film aimed at? The young teenage protagonists of the film or their slightly liberal parents? The answer is almost certainly both but at times the tone doesn’t quite sit right for either.
The problem is LOL is a series of teenage clichés that you’ve seen on film before and seen done considerably better. Watch any John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club in particular, and you’ll understand how to find the balance between overly wrought teenage drama and light-hearted comedy. Worryingly the final act sees Lola and her friends go on a field trip to France which rapidly descends into a racially slurred incarnation of Euro Trip without the slap-stick moments. It’s supposed to be funny but fails in keeping with the more dramatic comedy tone of the film to this point, meaning it sits uncomfortably with the rest of the proceedings.
What LOL does do well though is in drawing a neat parallel between Lola and her mother Anne. Lola is embarking on all manner of new experiences whilst Anne, aware of the dangers Lola leaves herself open to, is timidly trying to find her way as a single woman, unable to quite move past the love for her ex-husband. Both are lost in some way or other and while this theme could have lifted the film beyond the trappings it finds itself in, it’s only given fleeting reference.
Demi Moore certainly knows a thing or two about being the parent to adolescent teens, having been married toAshton Kutcher, and her laid back parenting skills here certainly feel familiar. The rest of the cast are asked to do little else but look pretty but what do you expect of a film that casts One Tree Hill’s human Ken doll Austin Nichols as a trigonometry teacher? Casting former child super star, and now rebelling teen herself, Miley Cyrus was surely an attempt at boosting the box office and while by no means a bad actress it’s hard to see past Cyrus’ brand name.
For most viewers LOL is a fairly arduous teeny film but, credit where it’s due, it will speak to its target audience and certainly presents a healthier message than that of Twilight. It’s biggest problem is it’s coming out at the same time as the infinitely superior Perks Of Being A Wallflower which deals with the same subject but in far less cack-handed ways. You won’t LOL so much as shrug.