Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not Completely Sold - The American Mall - Review

You know, I had my eye on The American Mall on MTV/Much Music Canada (where it premiered last night and comes out on DVD today) because:

a) it's a clear attempt to rip off and reap the benefits of the the new musical resurgence trend started by High School Musical (which at this point, only itself has benefited from) but since I loved High School Musical, I'm willing to sit through crap imitations like Camp Rock and King of the Camp until we find a next true worthy successor.
b) it stars Canadian Nina Dobrev of Degrassi: The Next Generation fame
c) it stars Autumn Reeser (who saved the final season of The OC as Taylor Townsend) as the mall bitch Madison and that just totally rocks! Rowr! She's totally the s#!t!

What I totally forgot about, but almost made me choke in my excitement, was that my reality TV love from So You Think You Can Dance Season 3 Neil Haskell (below right in red) has a part in the TV-movie-musical too! As Drew, part of the boys who work as janitors in the mall and who have a rock band on the side. Of course. Oh, and they dance with buckets too.

So is The American Mall worthy to browse through?

I'll totally buy Neil Haskell of course, who is just as cute and awesome playing dumb as he was in Altar Boyz.

He's paired up wonderfully with David Baum (A Chorus Line on Broadway) as the equally dumb Stavros (he of the yellow shirted janitor in photo atop, and bottom right in photo above) and they bring a lightness to the proceedings.

I'll totally buy Autumn Reeser just because she's Autumn Reeser but let's face it, she could save The OC but she couldn't save this movie. She brought as much bitchiness she could but enough with the poor little rich girl who doesn't have daddy's attention. It wasn't a fun role to play and she wasn't half as fun to watch as Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay.

I'll totally buy Nina Dobrev just because she's Canadian and on the up and up (and in the new Atom Egoyan movie so that buys here a million credibility points) and she plays the nice sweet lead here with enough real emotion, but again, she could have looked like she was having a bit more fun, but then again, everyone in the movie could have looked like they were having more fun since about the only people that did were Neil Haskell, David Baum and Rodney To as Ben, Ally's male friend who is part of the girls but ISN'T gay. I'm totally not buying that. (But I do appreciate not having yet another lil' gaysian sidekick now that it's becoming the stereotype led by Alex Mapa and Lloyd (and no one can top Lloyd, no pun intended)).

As for the rest, I think I'll just return it. The overall movie has a lame storyline but then again, so did High School Musical and they made that work. So that's not it.

It's essentially the lame songs which thinks it's catchy as long as they rhyme something but that just shows how good the songs from HSM are in that they instantly sink into your head and never let go (and I mean that as a good thing). The songs here aren't totally horrendous but they would all fit into the least interesting songs on HSM at best. At least they were better than Camp Rock (actually, the whole movie isn't as bad as Camp Rock at least).

Then the overall tone feels claustrophobic being in the mall the entire time and there's an air of darkness over the whole movie which really should feel light and campy. We see the skylights and all we want to do is escape out into the fresh air and sun, and the whole musical feels a bit airless and contained that way. The American Mall tries to take things a bit more seriously than HSM (and yes, I keep using that as the standard for comparison because lets face it, it's the standard for comparison at this point) but they overshoot on trying to be a bit more "important" and miss the mark of the joyous musical. I mean, come on, it's a teenage musical set in a mall. It should be fun and insubstantial but the movie doesn't feel fun at all.

And it doesn't even criticize the overall consumerist society that we live in. An easy attack that could have added a satyrical edge to the movie, which instead, becomes a hypocritical message all on its own.

As for everyone else, with the exception of the hilarious Blythe Auffarth as Alexa, Madison's stupid sidekick (note how all the "stupid" people are the most enjoyable and fun characters in this movie?), everyone else is pretty bland including the lead "hot guy" Joey played by Rob Mayes.

So yeah, I think I'll keep Neil Haskell, Nina Dobrev, Autumn Reeser, Rodney To, David Baum and Blythe Auffarth but everything else is returnable.

Grade: C-

Here's "Get Your Rock On" with my secret boyfriend Neil Haskell and the rest of the cast in about the only fun sequence in the movie:

Here's "Survivor" from The American Mall:

Here's the full trailer for The American Mall:

1 comment:

Violka-Antevasin said...

Nina Dobrev have a Bulgarian blood! She was born in Bulgaria, she and her parents moved to live in Canada when she was 2 years old.
She is a Bulgarian! :) I am also a Bulgarian! :)

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