Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

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Bob Waliszewski

Movie Review

Mary Cep (she prefers to be called Lola) thinks her life is over when her family moves from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a laid-back suburb in New Jersey (a place she refers to as a “new planet”). She really thinks it’s over when she finds out her favorite rock group is disbanding.

So, between the move, a celebrity crush, a new school, new friends and a chance to land the lead role in a school play—things are, at best, unsettled. To make things worse, the most admired and powerful clique at her new high school is bent on making her life miserable. It’s a lot of pressure on a teenage girl whose big goals in life are to regain the popularity she had in NYC and to develop an acting career.

On the first day at Dellwood High, Lola befriends Ella Gerard, a socially awkward but nice girl who shares her passion for (the fictitious band) Sidarthur. Soon, the popular girls—led by richie Carla Santini—make it clear that Lola might be worthy to join their self-absorbed bunch, but only if she’s willing to dump Ella. When Lola refuses to do so, Carla and her cohorts get angry. And when Lola nudges Carla out of the lead role in the school’s big play, it turn into war.

Fueling the hurt feelings is the fact that Carla’s parents have connections which enable her to get into Sidarthur’s final concert and after-party. Lola lies and claims to have tickets for both as well, hopeful that she can finagle her way in at the last minute. The drama has just begun!

Positive Elements

Although Lola has a bit of a wild side, she doesn’t usually take things to extremes. There is no alcohol use, no drugs, no nudity, no sexual inappropriateness. She genuinely cares for her mother and father (who are divorced) and is not afraid to compliment and hug her mother. (She does, however, shirk her parents’ rules whenever she feels the need to.)

While moving is not her cup of tea, she tries to make the best of it once it occurs. Better still, she befriends a girl who is something of a social misfit and stands by her even when pressured by the popular girls to ditch her. After Lola and Ella head off to New York City for the Sidarthur concert, Lola’s dad secretively and protectively tracks their whereabouts. And when Lola becomes aware of his activities, she takes it in stride.

Most of the film’s problematic loose ends are tied up and given a positive spin before the credits roll. For instance, Lola lives in fantasy world much of the time (an imagined relationship with rocker Stu Wolff prompts her to caress cutouts of his likeness). By film’s end, however, she remarks, “Absolute reality can be more fun than fantasy.” Lola also has a problem with lying, but it’s made clear that dishonesty has consequences (unfortunately, when she lies about having concert tickets, there are none).

It’s considered reasonable and normal that parents punish their children for disobedience. Lola’s mother takes away her daughter’s allowance after she discovers her “hunger strike” is a sham (to me, it would be reasonable to question why she should be staging a hunger strike in the first place!). Both Ella’s parents and Lola’s mother ground the girls after finding out about their New York City escapades.

Confessions sends a not-so-subtle message regarding the influence that role models can have on their fans. And over-the-top adoration of celebrities is made to seem juvenile.

Spiritual Elements

Lola refers to her NYC home as a “spiritual” place (no explanation is given). She feigns a hunger strike (she actually sneaks pizza) complete with a transcendental meditation pose and the chanting of a mantra sound (none of it is done out of religious conviction). And when she finds out that Ella’s parents have granted their daughter permission to attend the Sidarthur concert, she happily exclaims, “It’s as if the heavens wanted this!”

Sexual Content

When Lola meets Sam, she admires his gluteus maximus as he walks away. One of Lola’s dresses for the school play (which she wears often) is ultra-short and form-fitting. Lola dances in a somewhat sensual manner (think early Britney Spears).

[Spoiler Warning] Eventually, Lola comes to realize that Sam is the right guy for her, not her rock idol, and they share a passionate kiss before the screen fades to black. Ella kisses a picture of the Sidarthur band member she most admires. When Ella questions Lola’s claim that she was a “love child,” Lola responds that her parents got married and they were passionately in love.

Violent Content

Very little. While Lola and Carla race each other down the halls of their school in search of the posted audition results, they throw various items into each other’s paths (a trash can, videotapes off a media cart). When Carla realizes she didn’t get the part she wanted, she rebuffs Lola with the line, “I’ll show you what it’s like to be in my school.” Lola responds, “Is that a threat?” “Absolutely!” answers Carla. Later, an angry Carla throws cosmetics off a dressing room table.

Crude or Profane Language

The Lord’s name, along with derivations “jeez” and “gosh,” are used as interjections a handful of times. “Crap,” “slimeball” and “loser” also make it into the dialogue.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Lola and Ella meet Stu Wolff after he drunkenly stumbles out of his apartment and proceeds down an alley. He winds up conked out among bags of trash. After the girls manage to get him into a diner, they attempt to sober him up with coffee. It’s at this point that the movie sends one of its best and one of its worst messages. Lola excuses his intoxication as she assures Ella that he drinks to numb the pain of his soul, adding, “All geniuses do.” But she eventually tires of his inebriation, and comes to the important realization that he’s not worth worshiping.

As the film winds down, a sober Stu tracks Lola down and informs her that he is “in recovery again.” He further explains that it was she who helped him get back on the right path.

Other Negative Elements

It’s disappointing that Lola’s biggest goals in life are so small (she wants to be popular and she wants to be a famous actress). It would have been nice if she would have at least had the realization that there’s a lot more to life than living for what others think.

Lola picks and chooses when it comes to rules. And her carelessness rubs off on Ella, who has a history of walking the straight and narrow. When Ella’s gets grounded, she chalks it up as a credit to her new-found courage (when it’s actually rebellion).

Troublesome singer Christina Aguilera gets a thumbs up here and a song performed by Lola in the play includes the line, “You don’t have to stick to any rules.”

Conclusion

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen would seem more at home on the Disney channel than on the big screen—it’s strictly after-school special material.

Although I found it hard to root for Lola due to her unruliness, she does learn a lot of lessons along the way. And since her story tackles subjects like teenage insecurity, self-esteem, friendship, jealousy, honesty and alcoholism without embracing the vices of vulgarity, violence and sex, mothers (and dads) who decide their teen girls (just try to get guys to go!) need to see this drama queen preen will certainly be able to turn a trip to the theater into an opportunity to discuss deeper issues.

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Bob Waliszewski