Movie Information

Genre: Teen Music Drama Crapfest
Director: Meiert Avis
Starring: Pell James, Steven Strait, Kip Pardue, Carrie Fisher, Ashlee Simpson
Rated: PG-13

Undiscovered should have remained that way — and judging by the fact that there were only two other people in the theater besides my hapless viewing companion and myself, I’m guessing it pretty well will. I’d say this is a disaster on a par with Glitter.

Also, I personally resent having finally actually seen and — worse — heard Ashlee Simpson. Well, that’s not really true; having seen Raise Your Voice and The Hot Chick, I’d just managed not to notice her in those gems. That’s the kind of luck that just can’t hold out, of course. I’ll say this for her: If you can get past her voice, she’s a much better actress than either her sister Jessica Simpson, or Paris Hilton. Then again, the same could be said about the leads in most elementary school plays.

The real question here, though, is who was this movie made for? What possible demographic were they targeting? Of course, I ask the same thing every time one of these “teen sensation” pictures that almost no one goes to see comes out, so the question is probably rhetorical by now. That, however, doesn’t excuse this exercise in bad filmmaking, bad songwriting (did David Baerwald really write “Come What May” for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!?) and worse screenwriting.

Let’s start with the script, which is credited to John Galt. This, of course, raises the question, “Who is John Galt?” (Oh, you couldn’t have resisted either.) Since I can find no other credits for him and, as usual, Lion’s Gate wasn’t generous with press kits, I have no answer. I will, however, warn you to approach any future films bearing his name with grave misgivings and gloomy foreboding.

Here he’s created a wholly unbelievable story about characters with names like Brier Tuckett (Pell James, Uptown Girls), Luke Falcon (Steven Strait, Sky High) and Wick Treadway (Peter Weller, who seems downright embarrassed by the whole thing). What they do befits those handles.

Undiscovered is a ridiculous rag-bag of cliches — not just overnight-sensation, swollen-head cliches, but also ones from the realm of romantic comedy (meeting cute, penultimate reel misunderstanding, last reel reconciliation, etc.). Typically, as soon as Brier (why isn’t her last name “Patch?”) becomes attached to wannabe singer-songwriter Luke, the film virtually forgets that she’s in LA to study drama, since she has to focus all her energy on making Luke famous in the most improbable manner imaginable.

As directed by Meiert Avis, the whole thing’s just a mess. Moreover, it’s a mess with more grainy, underexposed footage than you’ll find outside the films of Peter Hyams. Whether the skateboarding bulldog was an invention of Avis or the script (I think the beast was once on Animal Planet), I have no idea, but Avis is so fixated on the forced cuteness of this X Games animal that we see it a good half-dozen times. After a while it’s hard not to hope for oncoming traffic.

The soundtrack is frankly appalling. Every song sounds like that filler you get subjected to in between promos for Beatles, Elton John or Cat Stevens compilations on those endlessly repeated CDs that play in theaters before movies — you know, songs you’ve never heard by people you’ve never heard of that you then hope never to hear again.

The acting … well, it’s hard to really blame the leads with the material they’ve been given. But only a bleached-blonde Shannyn Sossamon seems to be having any fun, and the movie wastes her.

Bottom line: I get paid to sit through this kind of rubbish. You don’t.

Rated PG-13 for sexual material including dialogue, partial nudity, language and drug content.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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