“Welcome to L.A.” is the slap-in-the-face greeting model-turned-actress Brier Tucket (Pell James) receives upon her arrival in the city of broken dreams, a moment that more than faintly recalls Ryan Atwood’s first impression of Newport Beach during the opening episode of The O.C. FOX’s teen soap opera and Undiscovered are both torturously clichéd productions of the same script, but if the former’s distillation of California New Rich materialism is pleasantly buoyant, Meiert Avis’s directorial debut—and excellent candidate for Worst Movie of the Year—is suffocatingly self-serious. After a romantic first encounter inside New York City’s subway system, Brier and singer-songwriter Luke Falcon (Steven Strait) serendipitously cross paths again after they’ve both moved to the West Coast in hope of fulfilling their ambitions—and where, inevitably, they will overcome the perils of fame and a lack of creativity (not to be confused with this romantic comedy’s airport chase ending). Only a studio producer could love Undiscovered‘s ridiculously hot struggling artists, who videotape each other in the subway Rent-style, say things like “bitch-slapped” and “news flash,” and eat at dingy cafes that serve breakfast all day. Other than Kip Pardue and Peter Weller as a charming over-the-hill record exec, the entire cast is subdued to the point of indifference; which is all the more awkward when the actors are forced to dish lines like Luke’s climactic love howl, “You didn’t just hurt me. You killed me.” It would be easier to write off Undiscovered as a committee picture conceived by studio hacks if it weren’t for its distracting direction. Avis, known better as a maker of music videos, aggressively layers every sequence with pop singles and confuses poor camera focus and colored lighting for aesthetic flair. It goes without saying that these fictional talents waiting to be spotted are as hackneyed as the film itself. A record label suit says about one of Luke’s Coldplay-lite performances, “This guy sings from his heart. It makes me sick.” I couldn’t agree more.
- Meiert Avis
- John Galt
- Pell James, Steven Strait, Kip Pardue, Carrie Fisher, Ashlee Simpson, Shannyn Sossamon, Stephen Moyer, Fisher Stevens, Perrey Reeves, Peter Weller, Melissa Lawner, Cameron Thor
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