Friday, February 1, 2013

So Undercover (2012)

Directed by Tom Vaughan (1)

Cast: Miley Cyrus (2), Jeremy Piven (3), Mike O'Malley (4), Josh Bowman (5), Megan Park (6), and Alexis Knapp (7)

(Watch the trailer)

My favourite quote - "If binging and purging were a crime, she'd be on death row."

Okay. So this movie is totally NOT going to win any Oscars or Emmys, and while it smells very much like a Miss Congeniality cum Nancy Drew cum Legally Blonde wannabe , it's not THAT bad. The reason why I call So UndercoverMiss Congeniality cum Nancy Drew cum Legally Blonde wannabe is because like Sandra Bullock's character in the former film, Miley Cyrus' Molly Morrison has to shed her tomboyish looks and demeanor to go undercover. Instead of wanting 'world peace' like the contestants in Miss Congeniality, now, it's just a 'pearl white Bentley'. And to further prove my point let's check out these two scenes and their dialogue.  

This is from So Undercover.

Armon: This right here is your brand new Volkswagen EOS.
Molly: Come on. Can't I ride my own bike to school?
Armon: Girls your age would jump up and down at the chance to drive this thing.
Molly: Well I'm not like most girls.
Armon: Brooke Stonebridge is.
Molly: Who's Brooke Stonebridge?
Armon: It's your new identity.
Molly: Are you serious? That's not a name, it's a gated community. 
Armon: I really don't care.

And this is from Miss Congeniality

Eric: This earpiece lets you hear anybody on our frequencies. They can hear you.
Gracie: Don't need that with all this foil in my hair, I'll get an HBO.
Eric: This is a pin camera, actual little lens in there. Provides a digital video feed to our hookups. Alright here's your new IDs, your pageant identity. 
Gracie: Gracie Lou Freebush?
Eric: Yeah, I remember you liked that name.
Gracie: Yeah, my IQ just dropped 10 points.

Yup. So Undercover's Molly gets a make over courtesy of the FBI just like Gracie does in Miss Congeniality. Personally, I think Sandra Bullock's Gracie and her dialogue is funnier. And if you didn't like Miss Congeniality, you sure as hell won't like So Undercover. I think with a comedy, your laughs need to come hard and fast, and very often. So Undercover doesn't have that. I think it's trying to be a little too serious when they should go all out outrageous and trivial, especially with regards to the case Molly is supposed to help the FBI on. The twist did take me by surprise and I found myself laughing at the antics in the film, however, I think it complicated the film too much without a suitable payoff for all that trouble. 

The idea is simple, the case is not. Miley Cyrus' Molly is a private investigator who works with her father played by Mike O'Malley, and who since losing his job as a cop has taken to gambling and drinking. The two of them work together to expose cheating spouses until Jeremy Piven's FBI agent character Armon offers her a chance to go undercover as a college student at a sorority. So we have a 'too-young-to-be-a-private-investigator' girl, Molly Morrison, who is tasked to use her street wise deductive skills to solve a crime. Sounds awfully like Nancy Drew don't you think. 

And I'm sure you can imagine why I made the link to Legally Blonde. Sorority of course. And sisterhood. And crime. 

This is from So Undercover.

Sasha: Brooke, what is going on?
Molly: What's platinum rule number one in the Kappa chapter book?
Hunter: Never wear sweatpants.
Molly: Rule number 2.
Sasha: A sister in need comes before anything else.
Molly: Girls, we have a sister in need.

And this is from Legally Blonde.

Professor Callahan: According to this communiqué from the prison, our client apparently had a visit from her sister. A Miss Delta Nu. Anyone you know?
Elle: Yes. I went to visit her.
Professor Callahan: What the hell do you mean you went to visit her?
Elle: I went to get her alibi.
Professor Callahan: Did you get it?
Elle: Uhmm, it's really good. 
Professor Callahan: Well great, what is it?
Elle: Oh I can't tell you.
Professor Callahan: Why the hell not
Elle: Because I promised her I'd keep it a secret. And I can't break the bonds of sisterhood.
Professor Callahan: Screw sisterhood! This is a murder trial, not some scandal at the sorority house. I want the alibi. 
Elle: I can't give it to you, but I can tell you she's innocent.

Of course what's also similar between So Undercover and Legally Blonde is the stereotypical portrayal that sorority sisters are ditzy and materialistic and how the 'ditzy blondes' help to solve a big case. I never went to a US college, or lived in a sorority, so I don't know if what we see in films are an exaggeration or if sorority girls are like that in real life.

Nicholas: You don't go to school here do you?
Molly: Course I do. Why would you think that I don't? I'm in my late teens, I'm walking on campus, I got a pretentious name and a sparkly cellphone. 

Maybe it's because I had very little expectation, but I didn't find the film too bad. I expected it to tank, but it has it's moments. Few, but still, it has it's moments. Miley's performance is pretty decent. I didn't want to run out the door every time she appeared on screen. I think she got the ditzy character down to a pat, but the serious bits didn't resonate with me as much. I think she has a long way to go before she becomes a good lead actress. But, having said that, she has improved since her last performance, in the film LOL

Jeremy Piven. He is so funny as Armon in So Undercover. Unfortunately, he's not funny enough to save the film from falling short. Megan Park as the uber ditzy and insipid  Cotton is actually surprisingly not as insipid as her character is scripted. I found Cotton to be endearing and one of the characters I bonded with through the film. Sasha is the typical queen b***h of the sorority and Eloise Mumford plays her well. Kelly Osborne's character Becky seems like the odd duck in the sorority and her role in the film seems too purposeful. It feels like Becky was added into the cast just so that Kelly Osborne could play her and so that she could "help" Molly with the case in some way. I think Becky's role was too contrived and insignificant but decently portrayed by Kelly Osborne. 

Give it a try is what I'm saying. Although it's not a top notch film, it still managed to get me to root for Miley Cyrus' Molly and her sorority sisters to solve the crime and save the day. So Undercover is actually a film I am embarrassed to say I kind of enjoyed. 

(1) Tom Vaughan has directed films like Starter For 10 (2006), What Happens In Vegas (2008), and Extraordinary Measures (2010). 

(2) Miley Cyrus has acted in films like Big Fish (2003), Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009), The Last Song (2010), and LOL (2012). She is well-known for playing the role of Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart in the Disney television series Hannah Montana (2006-2011). She is also a singer who has music albums as Hannah Montana and 3 albums of her own.

(3) Jeremy Piven has acted in films like Say Anything... (1989), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), The Family Man (2000), Serendipity (2001), Rush Hour 2 (2001), Black Hawk Down (2001), Runaway Jury (2003), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Chasing Liberty (2004), Two For The Money (2005), Smokin' Aces (2006), The Kingdom (2007), RocknRolla (2008), and Spy Kids: All The Time In The World (2011). He also voice the character of Harv in the animation Cars (2006). He also played the role of Spence Kovak in the television series Ellen (1995-1998) and the role of Ari Gold in the series Entourage (2004-2011). He also guest starred in television series like Seinfield, Chicago Hope, Will & Grace, and The Twilight Zone.

(4) Mike O'Malley has acted in films like Deep Impact (1998), Pushing Tin (1999), 28 Days (2000), The Perfect Man (2005), and Eat Pray Love (2010). He also played Jimmy Hughes in the television series Yes, Dear (2000-2006) and has guest starred in television series like Law & Order, My Name Is Earl, and Glee. 

(5) Josh Bowman is known for playing Daniel Grayson in the television series Revenge (2011-present). 

(6) Megan Park is known for playing Grace Bowman in the television series The Secret Life Of The American Teenager (2008-present) and has guest starred in television series like Entourage, Happy Endings, and The Newsroom. She also acted in the film Charlie Bartlett (2007). 

(7) Alexis Knapp has acted in films like Couples Retreat (2009), Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lighting Thief (2010), and Pitch Perfect (2012).

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks... So Undercover has some entertaining bits. But watch it only if you're into Miley Cyrus, chick flicks, and the sorority-sisterhood-bond type thing. (2.3 of 5)

* Movie Poster from Wikipedia 

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