J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Careful What You Wish For: Welcome to Lake Lure

It is summer—the time when movies assume all teens turn into hormonal-charged Neanderthals. Granted, puberty is not so conducive to good decision making, but you would expect more from Doug Martin, since he looks nearly as old as his parents. Regardless, Martin is in for a throwback 1980s-style summer vacation of fun, sun, sex, and a dead body. Fortunately, the very married Lena Harper is hot, making her worth the trouble for the smitten Martin. However, he has no idea how deep to doo-doo will get in Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum’s Careful What You Wish For (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Martin is eighteen and chiseled—yet never been kissed. It must be his personality. The sullen youth and his parents will be enjoying several months of summer vacation at Lake Lure (real name) in neighborly Rutherford County, North Carolina. Speaking of neighbors, a new couple have just moved in and Martin cannot stop ogling hot blonde trophy wife Lena Harper. Rather awkwardly, her super-loaded husband Elliott hires Martin to refurbish his vintage yacht. Elliott Harper is such an obnoxious, abusive, nouveau riche venture capitalist, he is just begging to get killed, which will happen soon enough, once Martin and Mrs. Harper become secret lovers.

Of course, Lena Harper assures Martin it was an accident. Given the suspicious circumstances, he duly disposes of the body. Salt-of-the-earth “Sheriff Big Jack” is definitely not inclined to make waves, so that probably would have been the end of it, had the insurance investigator not turned up. You know there was a big policy and who the sole beneficiary will be, but it is all news to Martin. From there, things get very Double Indemnity for him, but not nearly as stylish.

Frankly, CWYWF would be a ton of fun if savored with a dozen or so beach housemates over a long weekend, but it would just be weird to watch it in a theater. It would have been cheesy in the eighties. That’s all well and good, but there is no point in viewing it when you don’t feel comfortable talking back to the screen.

Sorry kids, Nick Jonas just doesn’t work as eighteen-year-old Martin. He looks like a gym rat in his late twenties and has the screen presence of a socially stunted twelve-year-old. Isabel Lucas’s Lena Harper is similarly lovely but entirely substance-free. At least Dermot Mulroney seems to be having a blast snarling at Jonas and Lucas while munching on the scenery. Paul Sorvino also does his thing as Sheriff Big Jack, even though he hardly seems the good old boy type.

Oh those silly Millennials. They really will fall for anything. Of course the rest of us are so far ahead of the film, it takes Chris Frisina’s screenplay about one hundred twenty-five minutes to catch up to where we know it is going. Not really recommended per se, the ironic and/or nostalgic should still give it a hung-over look-see when the time is right. For now, it opens this Friday (6/10) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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