[Screen It]

(2004) (Lindsay Lohan, Alison Pill) (PG)

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Comedy: A teenager who's prone to over-dramatizing her life must deal with moving to a new home and school as well as the break-up of her favorite rock 'n roll band.
Lola Cep (LINDSAY LOHAN) is a 15-year-old who thinks her life is ruined when her single mom, Karen (GLENNE HEADLY), moves her and her younger sisters from Manhattan to the suburbs of Delwood, New Jersey. Her only point of happiness is with her undying fan love for Stu Wolff (ADAM GARCIA), the lead singer of the rock 'n roll band Sidarthur.

Things look up when she meets fellow diehard fan Ella Gerard (ALISON PILL) on her first day at school, and catches sight of local hunk Sam (ELI MARIENTHAL). Yet, not everyone is so friendly, with rich girl Carla Santini (MEGAN FOX) leading a pack of high school snobs. She and Lola immediately clash, particularly when both compete for the lead in an updated version of Pygmalion to be directed by the school's drama teacher, Miss Baggoli (CAROL KANE).

When Lola learns that Sidarthur has announced they're breaking up, however, she thinks her life has gone into yet another tailspin. After Carla announces that she'll be attending their last performance and a post-concert party, Lola lies that she and Ella will also be going. Not wanting to use her father, Calum (TOM McCAMUS), for help, Lola tries to score tickets for the concert and party, all while dealing with Carla and rehearsing for her big debut in the school's play.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Many a teenage girl has been known to throw an overly melodramatic tantrum over any number of issues that seem trivial to adults but paramount to them. Whether it's outdated clothes, a facial blemish or a boy who didn't react exactly as they wanted, expected or demanded, such crises can evoke end of the world reactions.

The result is that many are labeled as "drama queens." Such is the case with Lola Cep, a 15-year-old who believes that her life is ruined when she moves from Manhattan to suburban New Jersey only to have her favorite rock 'n roll band break up at the same time.

One might expect that the resultant film in which she appears, "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," would be an insightful and funny look at such a mindset. Alas, this "girl who cried wolf" comedy comes armed with a fair amount of potential, but wastes it due to its messy, flat and often intolerable execution.

Director Sara Sugarman ("Very Annie Mary," "Mad Cows") works from Gail Parent's (co-writer of "Cross My Heart," "The Main Event") adaptation of Dyan Sheldon's book of the same name, a novel with which I'm not terribly familiar. I can only assume and hope, however, that it's cleverer and more imaginative in its comedic portrayal of teen angst, possibly like a more innocent and toned down version of the fabulous "Ghost World."

What's on display here is lowest common denominator entertainment aimed at young female teens and "tweens" who probably won't care about the haphazard state of the plot, writing and direction. Taking some of its cues from Hilary Duff's "Lizzie McGuire" show and movie, the film features fantasy and supposed comedic asides that represent the character's point of view and state of mind.

Coupled with some moments of voice over narration, the stage would seem set for some perceptive, humorous and possibly even dark observations about the teen mindset. Alas, what's offered in such regards is just as lame as the rest of the material that ranges from mediocre to poor.

Considering the title, I was expecting some fun with all of the teenage melodrama and related dramatics, but having star Lindsay Lohan ("Freaky Friday," "The Parent Trap") frown, look exasperated and/or dress up like Gandhi in a "hunger strike" just doesn't cut it. Targeted viewers might identify and/or commiserate with the protagonist, her various plights and reactions or solutions thereof, but it isn't likely that many others will feel the same.

In fact, about the only notable thing about the actress and her performance is that she looks a bit too old - not to mention buxom -- for the part, despite being just two years senior to her onscreen character. Good or bad, the film's costume designer seems intent on making us note every inch of Lohan's various womanly curves.

The rest of the cast is either bland or hampered by the lame material. Alison Pill ("Pieces of April," "Perfect Pie") appears as the new best friend character, but can't do anything with her, while Adam Garcia ("Riding in Cars with Boys," "Coyote Ugly") is surprisingly lackluster as a character who's supposed to be a wild rock 'n roll star.

Glenne Headly ("What's the Worst That Could Happen?" "Timecode") is okay but not around enough to make much of an impression as the mom, while Tom McCamus ("The Claim," "Perfect Pie") plays the protagonist's mysterious father about whom we know next to nothing. That may lead one to think that some of his material either didn't survive the novel to film transfer or was left on the cutting room floor.

The latter also holds true for Eli Marienthal ("The Country Bears," "American Pie 2") as the school hunk who briefly helps Lola, then all but disappears until a sudden and incongruously jolting romantic moment with her at the very end.

The character played by Megan Fox (making her feature debut) is more consistent, but only in predictability and one-dimensionality. The terrific Carol Kane ("Hester Street," "The Princess Bride") is completely wasted in a supporting part playing the school's drama teacher who's directing an updated version of Shaw's "Pygmalion."

The latter gives Lohan a few closing moments to belt out a few tunes, including the title track from the soundtrack. While nothing tremendous, it's more entertaining than the rest of the film and makes one thankful for Lohan - who was rather good in her previous roles - that she has something to fall back on should she end up in more cinematic flotsam like this.

I suppose it's okay entertainment for the target audience, but I alternately found it dull, flat, excruciatingly intolerable and lacking the sort of smarts it could and should have possessed. "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed February 17, 2004 / Posted February 20, 2004

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