A few years ago I had the privilege reading Lola Douglas’s True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. The book was cute. Not that memorable. I mean, there are a ton of books that deal with fallen celebrities out there but I really liked the concept and Douglas’s voice. It’s a shame that this series never got a third book because I am interested on what was to happen. So imagine to my excitement in 2008 when I hear that there’s going to be a movie. Of course I had to DVR it. And at the time I was a little meh to it. It didn’t destroy the book, but at the same time it was blatantly a Lifetime movie.
First Glance: It wasn’t terrible. I mean, there were a lot of changes made and it had a lot of Lifetime cheesiness and melodrama injected in it but it was still enjoyable enough. I guess. And I did like JoJo’s portrayal of Morgan. I thought she did a great job. But I was glad when the movie was over when it was. I had, had enough Lifetime cheese. But I still remember liking it…enough.
Upon Second Viewing: Like with Avalon High I liked the movie less upon second viewing. It wasn’t that it was a truly horrific experience, per say, it was just that the cheese was a lot more noticeable than it was before. And the movie, even though it’s only four years old, seemed sort of dated.
There were some good things about the movie though which I’d like to discuss first before I get into all the flaws it had. The first thing I’d like to say is that I thought the acting wasn’t that bad. I’ll go into that more later in the review, but the lead actors did a nice job, save for the love interest. I also thought Lifetime kept true to the overall story fairly well. It wasn’t as butchered as Avalon High, though it was missing some of the essential plot twists. There were also a couple of good one liners thrown in there as well.That being said though, the movie was extremely flawed. The main thing was that it was severally Lifetime-ized. I discuss this a lot throughout my review. But right now, I’ll give you an essential definition of what Lifetime-ized means to me. It means making everything as cliche as possible with enough melodrama and cheese to make you actually like watching the Will and Grace reruns that come on after the show.
Yeah, it’s that bad. The book itself already bordered on cliche. Thankfully, the author though was successful in presenting the book in a matter where you didn’t find the predictable plot groan inducing. So, it could’ve easily been done. Did Lifetime go this route though…. Hells to the no. They went as cliche as they could’ve possibly gone. I guess in their defense though 2008 was at the height of Hollywood meltdowns. A couple years before Britney had shaved her head and was having issues that was getting her on the cover of People every week and Lindsay Lohan was always having a BAC that was above the legal level. So, maybe Lifetime just wanted to generalize Morgan as much as they could so that she could be any of those girls.
Besides, simplifying two aspects of the book there were many Lifetime inserts that just made you want to groan. What is a Lifetime insert……well, an example of a Lifetime insert would be an irrelevant subplot that is only put into the movie to interest fans of say Valerie Bertenelli. Not that I don’t like Valerie. I really do. Hot in Cleveland has it’s moments, I just don’t like the way Lifetime used her.
The Casting: So. So. While I did like JoJo as the lead, I had issues with most of the other casting. Valerie Bertinelli’s role especially. This is probably my biggest complaint about any Lifetime movie the introduction of the hip, wise, parental figure. You know, Lifetime just because someone is above the age of twenty-five doesn’t mean they’re not cool and doesn’t mean we as audience members need to be told that they’re cool because they’re not cool every five minutes. Seriously, what’s wrong writing a character naturally? The same goes with the love interest in the story as well. Lifetime is notorious for making the romance just as cheesy as the drama is melodramatic. The relationship between Eli and Morgan doesn’t work here. Rather, it seems forced.
The Acting: JoJo’s acting was really great and for what Valerie Bertenelli had I thought she did a relatively good job (even though I hated her character). The supporting roles…meh. Especially when it comes to the love interest. The chemistry between these two characters was ridiculously lacking. I sort of wish they cut the whole love story plot out if they were going to go this route. The Story: The story is your classic riches to rags tale. And yeah, I know it’s predictable. But predictable can be enjoyable. Lifetime’s adaption, however, is very face palm worthy. The cringe moments in this are amplified. While there were a few groan inducing parts in the book, I liked it a lot. However, it seemed like the movie version took these groan worthy parts and amplified them. One thing that surprised me, especially for Lifetime, was that they took the whole rape subplot out. This was a big plot point in the book that I thought Lifetime would include because they like melodrama. But upon reflection, I think they took it out to emphasize that fame is bad and will make you a drunk (Nice, Lifetime. Really nice).
Writing: There were the occasional good one liners, but honestly this movie excluded a lot of cheese and of course there’s the big Lifetime moral compass that underlays the book that we see so often in these sorts of movies. Yes, I get teen drinking is bad. Yes, I get addiction is horrible and that all these celebrity teens getting drunk is bad for young girls who idolize these stars, but it doesn’t have to be thrown in my face. In the book, Morgan is a snarky character. Her addiction is an issue, but it’s not what the book is about. It’s more of a riches to rags tale. And I also have to say this, after being in law school for two years I think my whole outlook on this book/movie is more cynical. As ridiculously unrealistic as this book was before it’s even more ridiculous now especially considering that most celebrities like Morgan are emancipated by this point so all the tough love crap that’s thrown out in this movie would be moot.
Overall Rating: I liked this movie a lot less than the book (go figure). But as far as made for TV movies go, especially made for TV Lifetime movies, it’s about average. So I’m giving it five out of ten stars.