Film Torments: LOL (2012)

THERE’S a relatively old Family Guy episode where a cutaway gag pokes fun at the TV show One Tree Hill. “High schools so serious/These problems matter” a voice sings out as a depressed teenage boy skims stones over a lake. If I could sum up 2012’s LOL in a sentence, it would be that. “No, no, don’t do that!” My girlfriend cried at me when I announced I would be watching it, “It’s so long and awful, please.” If only I’d heeded her warning.

The film stars teen-pop sensation Miley Cyrus in the title role (who, despite being called ‘Lol’ is referred to as ‘Lola’ for almost the entire film); a girl who should no more be allowed to act on the silver screen than she should be allowed onstage at the VMAs. Please let it be known from the off that I am not chastising that classic movie genre of ‘teen drama’, but merely taking a bad example of one. There are some funny, memorable, moving teen dramas out there, Mean Girls and Easy A being two great examples. But let it be known that LOL is neither funny, nor memorable, nor moving. Let it also be known that this analysis is purely based off the American 2012 film adaptation of the 2008 French original.

Remember: They're playing 17 year-olds!

Remember: They’re playing 17 year-olds!

First of all, refer back to that classic Mean Girls. Now I want you to imagine that film from the point of view of ‘The Plastics’. Now go and watch LOL. “Why are we walking in slo-mo? Because that’s what all the attractive girls do. Just kidding.” One of Cyrus’ first lines of the entire film.

Is your blood boiling? “Just kidding” were you, Miley? So she says, but from that self-satisfied look in her eyes, you can tell in her core she means it. Look at these attractive teenagers, each one living in expensive, incredibly well looked-after apartments in central Detroit. I mean, honestly, how relatable is that going to be to 90% of your audience? These are rich, spoilt, children with more money than sense, and anything they don’t understand is therefore unnatural. I couldn’t care less if your dad wants you to work harder on your grades instead of playing guitar. When you’re spending all your time either rutting in the boys toilets or complaining about how unfair life is, maybe you should knuckle down and do some bloody work!

But when you take that away from the characters, what are you left with? Well, the answer to that is not a lot. Miley’s character is hardly interesting. Apart from her incessant need for attention, in the form of either sucking up to or fighting her mother, or bitching about the ‘other girl’ in the film, there’s not much to her. Indeed, she’s actually rather unlikeable. Her ex-boyfriend Chad (played by George Finn) is a womanising creature who goes from saint to sinner in a single scene. Her friend and new boyfriend Kyle (Douglas Booth) is a brooding teenager who just wants to play music, but, oh no! He can’t because his dad won’t let him!

Wen (Adam Sevani): What's his appeal again?

Wen (Adam Sevani): What’s his appeal again?

Wen (Adam Sevani) is not really given much insight. He’s also a womaniser, but also quirky for some reason. It’s never really explained why he acts the way he does, or how he appeals to Emily (Ashley Hinshaw) who he ends up dating for some reason that’s not really explained.

And that’s about all the depth we get. All the other characters are interchangeable and 2D. There’s the black guy. There’s the Asian dude. There’s the bitchy girl. It’s like the line-up of any low-budget horror movie. The other characters don’t really help. Every other child is equally unlikeable (if not more so) than the teens. They’re bratty spoiled children whose only apparent purpose in the film is to demonstrate just how annoying they can be.

What is more, there is nary a moral compass to be seen in the entire film. The film doesn’t go two minutes without making some reference to sex, with randy cat calls and near sexual harassment around every corner. Hell, if this film wasn’t rated ‘12’, no doubt the characters would be shagging in the school corridors. Oh, wait. At one point Chad makes a grab for a girl’s breast. If that happened in British schools the tabloids would have a fit.

What they’ve done is taken the usual pent-up teenage sexual frustration and put it on acid. Even the parents are at it. There is a scene where Emily sticks a webcam in a raw chicken to give the impression she is stimulating herself. I mean, these actors are meant to be portraying 17 year olds. What is this?! It’s clear that the film is supposed to represent ‘normal teenage problems’ and appeal to the audience, but this is just crazy.

What kind of sicko sticks a condom wrapper in a diary?!

What kind of sicko sticks a condom wrapper in a diary?!

It’s not just the sex aspect which is wrong. There are numerous references to drugs and alcohol, largely glorifying the substances. Again, even the parents are smoking it. There is of course the obligatory ‘oooh drugs are bad’ scene, which is overshadowed by the fact that the police officer who is presenting it is attractive. The main audience for this film is girls in their early teens. Why? Because Miley Cyrus is in it. Call me an old fart, but for the love of God is this really the impression of school they want them to have?

So we’ve stripped away the characters and the ‘themes’, and what are we left with: The storyline. Oh my, what an Oscar-winning storyline. Every aspect of this plot has been done before and 100 times better: Mother and daughter undergoing similar life experiences all to the soundtrack of disobedience and Keane. There really isn’t much I can say about it; it is as it is, and what it is is predictable, boring, teen garbage.

There is nothing right or good about what LOL represents. I am honestly surprised this film wasn’t nominated for a Razzie, but I guess at the end of the day it’s so irrelevant it doesn’t even deserve a nomination for even the lowest awards. LOL is nothing more than an oversexed teen movie, and doesn’t deserve your attention.

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