Hello, Spongey here.
I have some catching up to do when it comes to DCOM’s. Two new ones have come out in the spane of a couple months and because I couldn’t do a tie in thanks to Barbie month, I’m a bit behind. Of course, two of them are not on Netflix yet so I have an excuse for them.
Not so much for this, so let’s finally cover a DCOM that came earlier in the year. Before we get in, let me explain the Netflix thing. I like waiting for the movies to pop up there because I feel enough time has passed since the film’s release to cover it. I don’t wait to jump into right away, after all.
Since I felt I was behind on the DCOM reviews, I wanted to cover this for Teen Beach 2 but Netflix didn’t’ have it yet so I went for Zenon 2. Then it popped up there on July 1, not too long after I did Zenon 2.
I wanted to do this last month, kind of like how I did those 2 reviews between Toon’d Out 3. I wrote the intro but got too lazy to do it. So I’m doing it now!
…Anyway, this one is very special, because if you count all the “debatable” ones such as Harriet the Spy Blog Wars, then this is the 100TH DCOM! I did a whole 2nd month simply because of this fact!
And what did they do? ….A normal movie. A B film that is normal and has a star in-between B and A list, and…that’s it. It’s…normal. …That’s disappointing. However, Disney doesn’t quite count a few so maybe they’ll claim an upcoming one is the 100th.
They don’t count the very first one for some reason….which I should have done instead of Johnny Tsunami. Whoops.
Anyway, onto the actual movie. As I said, it’s a B movie but I thought it looked kind of amusing. Nothing too special or fancy, and after the oddness of Zapped and How to Build a Better boy, a normal one is in order. But as they releases more trailers, I kind of got excited for it.
This one had more hyped than usual for a B movie but Disney has always been good at advertising these things, no matter how minor they are. But I’ll go that more when I cover a Nick TV Movie…
They even had a marathon of …every Austin & Ally episode for it. Goddamnit Simpsons…
In the end, the movie ended up being fine. We’ll get into more it later but for now I’ll say it’s that kind of DCOM that is kind of decent but not really special enough to be called “Good”. It’s fun and that’s it.
It has enough materiel for a review, anyway. Though it’s odd that it’s good considering it aired on Friday the 13th.
Now on to the “Creative” team. The director has done nothing and we have 4 writers, 2 of which have done nothing, and the other 2 gave us How to Build a Better boy.
I went through that quick so we cuz discuss the stars of this one. Most DCOM’s that have 2 big stars, have them be 2 kids. But here…one of them is an adult. And I don’t mean a guest role, no she is the big star, as seen on the poster. She is Leigh Ally Baker, aka the Mom from Good Luck Charlie.
She’s pretty hot, I mean cool. She’s even the Executive producer! I like her in that role so this should be good. The main star is Laura Marano, mostly known for Austin & Ally. How should I describe here, at least as Ally Dawson..
The term Adorkable is thrown around a lot, and I rarely use it myself to describe certain characters. She’s the exception.
…On that awkward note I’ll say she’s good and move on. So we have the makings for a decent DCOM, so let’s just dig in it and see how it is.
This, is Bad Hair Day
The movie opens with shots of a room set to a pop song as the credits roll. Ever notice that almost every DCOM opens that way? I just noticed that hence why I phrased it that way
The movie actually opens with a montage of our main character, Monica, played by Laura Marauno, getting ready for a thing. After that, we cut to her waking up sometime later, thanks to her friend who called to tell us that it’s the day of prom. Insert exposition picture here.
As a side note, this was filmed around the same time as a prom themed Austin & ally Episode. She did make jokes in interviews about being prom’d out, don’t worry. Hell, the first trailer for this premiered with that episode.
“All is right with my universe”
And something terrible is about to happen.
Sure enough, her hair is all screwed up due to a big mistake while doing something. I guess you can say she’s having a… very unfortunate day when it comes to her hair?
On top of that, her dress is ruined and so are her shoes. Well, that was quick. The basic premise the title promises is the first thing to happen! And yet this is still 90 minutes long.
Then she gets a call from the DMV saying her driver’s test is next year, when she’s in college. Their only available one besides that is today, so she has to do it. Oh, what a wacky series of bad events, amirte?
She talks with her Dad about all this, and he basically just says “That sucks honey”. He’s supportive but not exactly helpful. He also gives us “old person tries to be hip” jokes which are somehow never funny despite mocking trends I hate.
Her doorbell rings and it happens to be Officer Liz, played by Leigh Allyn Baker. It didn’t long for her to show up and honestly that’s one problem the movie kind of has. The basic premise, happens pretty much right away.
Which is good, but it also means there’s about to be a bit of lull in the plot once it starts with the characters just doing stuff until something happens. I think they should have used the first 10 minutes to build some character with our protagonist before all this happened.
It still works as it is but they could have fixed some pacing issues if they took their time, you know.
Anyway, she happens to be FBI.
“The America FBI?”
“Is my Russian accent throwing you off?”
Eventually she confess she isn’t with the FBI and she’s just a private investigator. Liz asks her about a certain necklace that she happens to have. Yep, she also owns a supposed stolen necklace. Yeesh.
They talk and Liz helpfully tells us about Monica’s character.
“You’re a high school student, you’re allergic to nickel, you’re young for your class, you’re dating a jock polition whose popular but soulless, You live along with Dad no siblings, because Mom left when you were really young”
Yes, use the fact that Liz is proving she’s a smart PI person to cover up lazy exposition. She also happens to know that she got that necklace at a pawn shop, and __ says she will give it up if Liz gives her a ride to the places she needs to go.
Because no neighbors can do it, and walking is overrated, I guess. She also needs to do this before she gets the necklace, so they can have time to develop their arcs and stuff.
But that’s enough conflict, so we cut to our villain. He visits the pawn shop, and he’s as amazing and suave as you would expect him to be.
“I’m looking for a necklace”
Dun dun dun. …Next scene.
Liz and Monica head off in Liz’s car which is full stuff to make jokes about it.
“Don’t touch the red button, nothing good happens when you touch the red button”
Oh, self aware, I like. …Someone’s gonna touch that later. Also, the Car is named Brando.
“Yeah, after Marlin Brando”
Weird reference to put in DCOM but okay. Then we get some filler involving some douchbags that go to Monica’s school. Liz basically calls them out for playing their music too loud and littering on a public road, just to be a bitch for whatever reason. It’s mildly amusing but weird.
“I can’t believe that just happened”
After that incident they talk and Monica mentions that she’s running for prom queen, and she is a bit desperate for votes. Which is why she didn’t like Liz embarrassing her in front of those douchebags. Every vote counts?
And if you’re wonder, Monica covers up the Liz thing by saying she is her aunt Hilda, although no one asks where Aunt Zelda is. Anyway, they go around a bit and Liz starts acting like kind of a bitch. Not quite to unredeemable levels, but they should clam her down a bit. I think they do, but my memory is never good.
To be fair, she just snarks on things I would be angry about it. We’re now at the part where they stumble around waiting for the plot to move forward, so that’s why I’m not saying too much on the exact things that happen. We do get some good chemistry and amusing moments.
First they miss a hair appointment, then they try and fail to return Monica’s ruined dress. Liz kind of ruins those things but really they would have gone bad either way. It’s still bad enough for Monica to decide she’s had enough, at least.
Eventually things kind of move forward as when they are at the mall, Liz sees Monica’s boyfriend flirting with another girl. Are you sure that cliché is really needed? The guy was barely in the movie up to this point and the plot was fine without it.
And of course he is flirting with the Alpha Bitch who is up against Monica for prom queen. She’s enjoyable but pointless, even more than the one from Better Boy. …I’m reviewing Alpha Bitches now, what has my life come to?
“This isn’t what it looks like”
Spoilers, it is.
Naturally this is the final straw for Monica and she breaks down crying. Liz even starts to be sympathetic here. I have to say, this actress crying makes this moment more depressing than it should be.
Liz stands up for her goes all cop on the douche-y boyfriend. It’s predictable but awesome. It does go a bit overboard but ah well. This is one of those parts where the director forgot to yell cut.
She basically pretends to be a mall cop and she gets caught by a real one and they head downtown. That reminds me, I gotta do Paul Blart 2 at some point. They are taken to the police station where they bump into Liz’s old partner, Ed. So of course they have to hint at a romance with him. Even when the plot does move them, they feel the need to stop to chat. Although I suppose it forwards Liz’s character a bit and it’s kind of amusing.
Ed manages to get them to drop the charges against Liz but the angry chief won’t have any of it. Oddly enough, the yelling chief is a white female for once.
“Liz and the chief have a special relationship”
“Clearly one that involves a lot of yelling”
…Not touching that one.
We find out that Liz was pretty awesome at one point but kind of went downhill. Hmmm, awesome cop that went downhill? Okay, place your bets on which cliché backstory they will use! I say she lost a MacGuffin to the bad guy.
They leave but Monica asks Liz to tell her the whole story. Backstory time! The necklace was a star attraction at a museum, and Liz was in charge of security. The bad guy took the thing and she wasn’t able to stop him in time because she refused to call for backup.
So because she lost that thing, it was a bad mark on her record, and she worked hard to try to get it back but due to this, her work started slipping. In other words, I called it! Hopefully you all made the right bets.
Anyway, needless to say Liz was fired for this. Now we’re getting somewhere. As cliché as that its, it does help make the story more interesting by tying two arcs together. My only problem is that it’s super cliché but not DCOM cliché so I’ll let it slide.\
The bad guy found a buyer for the thing but he accidently gave it to the wrong person and the necklace eventfully made its way to a pawn shop where Monica got a hold of it. Again, somewhat clever way to tie these two stories together. Hey, it’s more interesting than some other DCOM’s I know of.
By the way, since this happened because Liz failed to call for backup, and she isn’t asking for help at the moment, you can guess what the obvious moral is: Eat your Veggies!
“Lone ranger style?”
Nah, I can’t see Johnny Depp playing Monica, really.
The discussed moves to Monica’s development as she explains that everything she does is put up for vote online and she doesn’t’ really do things for herself. She has a speech about this and it actually adds to her development in a somewhat decent way.
It’s clunky how they took like 5 minutes to dump all this stuff but it could be worse. ..Then when it’s done they abruptly move over to the DMV for the driver’s test. …Wow, that’s some bad mood whiplash, yikes.
“No one drives Brando but me”
Spoilers, it does not cut to them driving Brando. …Okay it does. Damn Gilligan cuts.
We then get a wacky driving scene but as soon as Monica is told to get out, the bad guy pops up.
MRS PUFF: Don’t floor it!
SPONGEBOB: Floor it!
At one point, Liz decides it’s time to push the red button. Called it again! It turns out the button makes the car go super fast. …That’s a disappointing twist. They are able to outrun him and the bit ends with a lame joke.
“…Did I pass?”
She did not and Brando is being impounded. With that, pretty much everything is ruined for Monica. Which means she’s gonna bitch at Liz and we have our obligatory end of 2nd act conflict. Man, this movie is more predictable than I remember.
Of course, they storm off and Liz heads off to deal with the necklace herself. But as soon as Monica leaves, she gets a call from the bad guy, telling her to come to a warehouse. Well, he’s clearly up to good things!
Monica then goes to Liz and tells her this, so they have to go meet him. Wow, that break up didn’t last long. It’s almost like it was rushed!
They need to give him the necklace but it’s in Monica’s purse…which is in the car that got impounded. Yeah, Monica had the thing n her person the whole time but it was not brought up because this movie can’t be 5 minutes long.
They visit the impound place but it’s a long wait til they can see if their car is there. Thankfully, Monica is smart enough to be able to hack things and all that stuff. Long scene short, she does the hacking and they are able to get their car back. It was a decent scene but it’s skippable…so I skipped it. With their ride back, they look through Monica’s purse and…don’t find the necklace.
As it turns out, she swapped purses with her friend so they go to her. While at the park where the friend is, they bump into the jerk-y (now ex) boyfriend who apologizes for what he did, and asks her out.
Thankfully, the movie decides not to redeem him and he ends up falling the lake along with his Alpha bitch girlfriend who he now kind of hates. How do these guys end up with bitches like this anyway?
After that pointless bit, they get the necklace. That was so quick that this last minute is now pointless. They just had to meet with jerk boyfriend again for some reason.
So now they go to the creepy warehouse to meet with the bad guy. Somehow they still end up taking time for small talk, like revealing that the chief is Liz’s mother. That’s cool but not the time or place.
When they are done waxing poetic, they meet up with Bad Guy (nto even gonna bother learning his name) who is as over the top as you might expect.
“Where’s my DIAMOND?”
Random EMPHASIS. Oh, and I forgot ot mention that bad guy kidnapped Monica’s father because of course he did. He gets his necklace back, but he isn’t going to give up Dad now.
“What kind of incompetent criminal do you think I am?”
The kind of who lost the necklace to begin with. Monica is able to track Dad through the magic of a tracking app.
The actual characters mock Bad Guy for being dumb about this, that’s how dumb this is. I just love how they mock this, since in older movies a plot like this would go on further and I would be snarking on how new tech would change it. And it’s actually pointing that out.
Bad Guy tries to make his escape, but Liz called for backup for once so a bunch of cops show up. Liz shoots him with a taser so he can be captured easily. Yep, he’s defeated with an Anti Climax.
Raise your head if this shocks you.
With him in custody, they head back to the police station so Liz can finally turn in that necklace. With that, she gets her badge back. Yay. Not a huge wrap up for her arc, since Chief Mom doesn’t really say much but ah well, we still have like 10 or so minutes left.
Of course that time will be spent on the prom, right after a quick scene with Dad regarding MIT or whatever. You know, it’s so odd seeing characters in movies or shows talk up porm so much when in real life, I don’t see people being as uppity about it. Hell, I didn’t go to prom because I chose not to so shut up with your jokes about my lonely love life that is totally active!
After a quick montage Monica gets her perfect dress and then we finally head to prom. Liz even gets to go, complete with some cop friends and Chief Mom. So we end with prom companied by a bunch of big people of notable authority. …Sounds like something I saw in another DCOM recently.
This is where we get our moment with Chief Mom that I just said didn’t exist. …It’s really short so it still stands. Also, Monica is prom queen which is dumped on her about as quickly as it’s dumped on us.
This gives her a chance to tell our epic “sweet” speech to help recap the movie. She learned that it’s okay to be yourself. You shouldn’t put yourself up for vote, and yada yada. A decent message I suppose, and I’ve seen it done way worse. Cliché but well-meaning enough to not be terrible.
After her speech, they all dance and act happy. Then the movie goes for a few more minutes to bring everything important back and close things out in a very well place man–nah it ends here.
Well, at least it ends after Liz hooks up with Ed. Meh. Honestly, this is not a decent ending. With the music nad stuff, it feels a lot more satisfying. Plus the plot is small enough that they got everything wrapped up okay. A lot better than Cloud 9, which tried the same thing.
Man, even I’m getting tired of riffing on rushed endings. …Also, yes, the main female star gets a song in the credits.
In spite of every problem I’m about to get into, I actually enjoyed this one more than the previous few DCOM’s, and even the other two from this year. Some of them are “Better” in that thir highlights are better, and more ambitious.
But at the same time, I like that this one is small scale compared to others. Nothing ambitious, just a simple movie, even if it is quite wacky in some areas. It’s a nice change of pace and it is a nice, simple, enjoyable movie.
I did enjoy it and while it’s nothing grand, it’s still okay. But let’s analyze it, and go through the flaws first. The biggest problem is the way the story is told. It has a few too many clichés but I can forgive that.
The exposition is the problem. I went through this but they really just dump info on us at random points. There are tons of moments of character just discuss how they feel in a clunky manner. I already said the story goes off a bit after Liz shows up which means they have to force in these scenes sometimes.
And because of this, some of them may come off as too forced. Like they are telling instead of showing. It’s not a big issue for me but it is distracting. The actual story is not the attraction here.
It’s cliché but well meaning with some nice morals. They do an okay job at exploring these characters and how they feel. It’s cliché and clunky sometimes but they did try to go deepe here. Kind of like Cloud 9 but this didn’t pretend it was smarter than it really was, for the most part.
Mostly because the focus is on the leads. Even moreso than usual, this coasts off the charm of it’s leads and it works. They have good chemistry and some fun back and forth.
Sometimes it gets too heavy but usually it’s good. They are the main reason the movie is fine. It’s fun to see them hang out and it makes the sweet scenes work better. Both actors turn in a decent performance, especially Laura Marano.
The actual characters are alight. Unlike Cloud 9, I feel like both leads got equal development. Liz’s backstory makes her decent and while it could have ended better, her arc had weight. Monica’s story is mostly told through just them talking about her deal, but she does learn nice morals throughout.
They both help each other and feel equal in the end. Not the best characters, and Liz can be annoying sometimes, but still good. Everything else is…there. The villain is put but pointless, and all the other character exist to move the plot, like the Boyfriend (whose whole deal was pointless) and Dad.
So if you don’t like the leads, your are out of luck. Thankfully, I like them. While the writing isn’t the best, it does an okay job with it’s development and themes. The leads are likable and have good chemistry and when it works, it works.
It’s nothing special but it is a fun and nice change of pace from the more hectic DCOM’s we’ve been getting. It’s quite flawed critically but it does a lot right for a movie like this. So I did enjoy it and you should check out if it looks good.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can finish catching up.
Next time, we’re finally doing a theatrical 2015 movie. I’ll skip the old gag and say it’s Strange Magic. …Yay.