Blu-ray Review: Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore in LOL

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Miley Cyrus is certainly not at fault for the shortcomings of LOL, writer-director Lisa Azuelos’ remake of her own 2008 French hit, LOL (Laughing Out Loud). The former 'tween queen acquits herself rather nicely in the lead role of Lola Williams, a high school student with problems at home, problems at school, and of course, problems with boys. The lack of a compelling plot or likable characters (for the most part) is the reason LOL fails to ignite.

First things first: LOL is a teen movie primarily about high school kids, with a specific focus on the female perspective. As such, it may play much better to that specific demographic. That said, there was something distinctly lacking in the rather thinly-written characters and stock situations they find themselves in. The time-tested young adult themes of sex and substance abuse are explored, but not in very insightful ways.

Lola has a prickly relationship with her mom Anne (Demi Moore), especially after Anne gets an eyeful of her daughter’s new Brazilian wax. She’s uncomfortable with her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality. The back-and-forth bickering between Lola and Anne is really the heart of the movie, and their love and concern for each other comes through more strongly than any other element in the film. Moore delivers a standout performance as the warm, caring mother of two (Lola has a much younger sister who is denied any significant screen time) with problems of her own. Anne is torn between her somewhat rekindled relationship with her ex-husband, Allen (Thomas Jane), and a cop she recently started dating, James (Jay Hernandez).

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Come to think of it, the movie would’ve probably worked better had Anne and her men been the focus of the story. But there again, that’s a question of demographics—a movie about mature, adult relationships would’ve certainly alienated the teen audience that a Miley Cyrus movie is aimed at. But why then did Azuelos and her co-screenwriter Kamir A├»nouz not craft more interesting teen characters? Lola’s boy troubles involve Chad (George Finn), her boyfriend who has cheated on her, and Kyle (Douglas Booth), a musician working towards competing in a local battle of the bands. Throw Ashley (Ashley Greene) into the mix as the so-called “Post-it” (she sticks to every guy she sees, get it?), and various machinations transpire.

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A little dramatic weight is introduced when Anne discovers Lola’s diary. Lola has a habit of taping mementoes to the pages. The first is the wrapper of a Tootsie Roll pop she and Kyle shared. The second is the wrapper of their first condom. Which do you think Anne sees first? This event really triggers the slightly more complex events of the film’s second half, including a class trip to Paris and Lola moving in with her father. It’s all pretty bland and watery. Again, Cyrus turns in a sturdy performance that suggests she may continue developing and maturing as an actress. The fractured bond between Lola and Anne is the best thing about LOL.

Lionsgate’s 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is framed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is very acceptable for a recent movie. The somewhat moody, shadowy cinematography (by Kieran McGuigan) is well represented, with suitably deep black levels. Skin tones are realistic and although the palette is muted overall, colors are consistent throughout. LOL isn’t visually spectacular, but it gets the job done.

The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a bit of overkill. Everything sounds just fine, but surround activity isn’t all that noteworthy. The best audio element of the presentation is the music. Not only are there a lot of songs featured throughout, Kyle’s band plays live several times. During those sequences, the mix is pleasingly immersive. Dialogue is always clear as a bell and appropriately mixed.

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A few supplemental features are included, the best of which is a chatty commentary by writer-director Lisa Azuelos and supporting actresses Ashley Hinshaw and Lina Esco. It’s a surprisingly candid and informative track (fun fact: using 30 seconds of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” added $100,000 to the film’s budget). The featurettes “The Cast of LOL,” “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” and “Lots of Love For Lisa Azuelos” are short, fluffy promotional pieces that aren’t really worth the few minutes it takes to watch them.

Far from being unwatchable, LOL should prove to be very interesting for fans of Miley Cyrus or Demi Moore. Otherwise, this type of material has been handled with greater depth and more interesting characters many times before.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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