Chris Colfer plays Carson Philips, a young man first introduced to the audience just moments before he is struck by a lightning bolt that kills him. We may already know how things will end for Carson, but that doesn’t stop everyone getting to have some fun as he narrates a sketch of his high school life and his dreams to get away from the small town he’s been stuck in for far too long. Carson is kind of like an American version of Adrian Mole, his future is all set out in his mind and he expects his years of hard work to pay off.
Struck By Lightning has nothing new to offer the “smart teen movie” subgenre (IS that a subgenre, well it is now), but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable while it’s on. The script, which was also written by Colfer, is quite sharp and full of great insults. It sits in the middle ground between the greatness of Mean Girls and the overly hip likes of Excision and Detention.
Director Brian Dannelly does a decent enough job here, he keeps everything moving along quickly enough and fills the screen with enough noise and activity to detract from the fact that the only thing missing is the alt-rock soundtrack. The biggest thing working against the movie is Colfer himself, who just makes his leading character a touch too cold and calculating for most of the runtime.
Thankfully, the rest of the cast more than makes up for the weak lead. Allison Janney is superb as the acerbic mother of Carson, stuck with a life she never wanted after separating from her husband (Dermot Mulroney), and Rebel Wilson adds another easy, crowd-pleasing turn after her great work in Pitch Perfect. Christina Hendricks, Polly Bergen and Angela Kinsey all do well as three very different women who orbit Carson’s life in different ways, and there are decent performances from Roberto Aguire, Sarah Hyland, Brad William Henke and many others making up the fabric of the school that our lead character attends.
Struck By Lightning is an easy film to enjoy, but it doesn’t measure up when compared alongside the company it wants to keep. I’d watch it again, I might even buy it if I find it at a bargain price, but I’d also probably revisit all of the other titles already mentioned before getting back to this one.
DIRECTOR: BRIAN DANNELLY
WRITER: CHRIS COLFER
STARS: CHRIS COLFER, REBEL WILSON, ALLISON JANNEY, DERMOT MULRONEY, CHRISTINA HENDRICKS, POLLY BERGEN, ROBERTO AGUIRE, ANGELA KINSEY, SARAH HYLAND, BRAD WILLIAM HENKE
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX