‘LOL’ Review: Like, OMG, What?

Posted in The Screening Room by - November 28, 2015

LOL is a touching and riveting story about the reunion of family ties against the greatest of hardships –wait, no. That’s the other movie I watched this Thanksgiving, The Judge. Let’s shelve that and start again.

LOL is actually a cheap high school rom-com starring none other than Miley Cyrus. As a remake of a French film of the same name, it attempts to examine the turmoil of teenage love, friendship, and growth, while celebrating the utter chaos of the experience.

That’s the goal, at least; but like so many other movies of its type, it can’t stick the landing.

Our story centers around a small group of friends, Cyrus’ Lola (who, early on, tells us she goes by “Lol,” but we only hear this used by others maybe five times in the film), life-long guy friend, Kyle (Douglas Booth), and her team of girlfriends, Emily and Janice (played by Ashley Hinshaw and Lina Esco, respectively). We open on an a panning shot of all the high schoolers who are to be our main cast, while Lola gives a little monologue about each of them, their collective lives, and, of course, explains the title of the film. It’s what you’d come to expect from these high school girl dramedies, and it’s as gag-inducing as it ever is.

You have to give it this, at least: it sets us up for nearly all of the problems of the entire film in the first five minutes. Annoying lead character that tries to tell us that the pain and love and madness of teenage life are SO IMPORTANT AND REAL? Check. Blitzing dumb of exposition in place of real character development? Check. Insufferable “teenage talk” clearly written by a middle-aged mother? Ohhh boy, we got that one in spades.

And the end of this short, but still painful, monologue, Lola tells us that she’s just madly in love with her boyfriend, Chad (George Finn). Wouldn’t you know it? Just a few moments later, he’s telling her that he cheated on her over the summer, trying to still make it cool, and Lola runs off to cry and cross out the “LOLA + CHAD 4EVER!” she Sharpied onto the bathroom stall. Because that’s how these things go.

This triggers the “rollercoaster” of the film, as Lola goes from talking about how great of a guy Kyle is (they’ve been friends since they were three, don’tcha know?), to how much she wants to suddenly date him, to Lola defending herself as Chad has the gall to call her a slut for going after him, to, of course, trying to find a way to perfectly and romantically lose her virginity to Kyle. The whole movie just sprints about, shotgun-blasting plot and changing emotions as it goes, as if this is a fair trade for real development of character or feeling. The old adage of “Show ‘em, don’t tell ‘em” was clearly lost on this crew.

Behind all this, Lola also “fights” with her mother, Anne (played by Demi Moore, the other headliner to this… experience), who, herself, is wrestling with the romantic burden of hooking up with her ex-husband and father of her three kids. It’s a sort of nice setup that could be turned into something of a meaningful examination of divorcees – but, no, this has to segue from a hasty make-out scene to a dinner party with Anne’s friends who bicker about female vs male sexuality (“Women can never be fully removed from sex” – or some such line is dropped here, and you can tell it’s a cheap plant for the movie’s “themes” and a half-assed attempt to align itself with the original film). But before any of this can pay off, Anne is suddenly riding home and falling in love with a charming local detective.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, she’s having trouble raising Lola. I think that’s what they were trying to imply with some of the monologue and a few tiny bickering scenes? But since each of these are quickly followed by the mother and daughter laughing and joking with each other or just otherwise being a sweet little family, it’s hard to say for sure if that’s another subplot.

There are some other things going on with a rivalry with Lola’s frienemy, Ashley (played by Ashley Greene), a secret love between two of her other friends, some more failed attempts at introspection on love, sex and drugs, as well as a sudden jump into Kyle’s problems at home with his honestly abusive father. If the film could just keep focus and examine these rather than just exposition-dump them out with voice-overs and 90-second scenes, it could maybe go someplace. But, instead, we have to rush to the crescendo in France and the finale at the Battle of the Bands (oh boy, did we try hard on that one!). And, as you’d expect, everything works out: Everybody’s friends and loving the people they want to love, Kyle’s dad sees the errors of his ways after seeing his son’s band perform one song, Lola and Ashley are friends, and, of course our narrator tells us just how powerful and amazing love is! And you should really trust her, because she’s a high school girl in an on-again, off-again relationship of a few months!

If you wanted to sum up this movie in one word, I guess you could call it, “earnest.” If you wanted to use a few more for accuracy, you’d say it’s “heavy-handed, poorly paced, blandly written, and over-spoken with nothing to say.” Seriously, this is the kind of movie where I can honestly say that Miley Cyrus and company aren’t its downfall – in fact, the acting in this movie is pretty decent, if nothing spectacular. The problems with LOL come from shoddy writing, almost nonexistent direction, and just an ultimately meaningless plot. Sure, it’s a train wreck, but not in any of the ways that would make it worth watching. Be glad you didn’t lose 100 minutes of your life to this go-nowhere flick.

Final Verdict: Skip It

This post was written by
He is a Nebraska native and UNL Honors alum with an ever-relevant degree in English. When he isn’t working his day job or writing for Kulture Shocked, Ben spends his time as an independent game designer, seeking to publish his first board game. You can also find him modeling for art classes around Lincoln or online as Dlark17 on most major gaming platforms.
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