So Undercover (2012)
Miley Cyrus plays a street-wise, tomboy detective who spends her time photographing cheating partners and trying to support her down-on-his-luck father (Mike O’Malley). When she is approached with a job offer by Armon (Jeremy Piven) she initially refuses, but the money and opportunity it could provide prove impossible to resist. So she takes the gig. Unfortunately, that gig involves her becoming more girly and more superficial as she is placed undercover in a college sorority alongside a girl who may be in serious danger, even though she doesn’t know it.
If that all sounds a bit ridiculous and potentially vomit-inducing and teen-tastic then that’s because it is. I’m not going to rate this film highly, but let’s be honest here, as much as I try to desperately cling on to any last shred of youth I have . . . . . . . . . this film isn’t made with me in mind. I’m in my late 30s, I’m male and I still hold a grudge against the father of Miley Cyrus for making me dance with girls to Achy Breaky Heart.
As a teenage girl, however, there may be more to enjoy here, but even then I’m not so sure. Cyrus never convinces in the main role, she’s not tough enough when that’s needed and then by the time the film starts to revel in the girlier behaviour it’s already poked plenty of fun at it all so she doesn’t convince then either. Perhaps not her fault, admittedly, but she is the one front and centre.
The script by Allan Loeb and Steven Pearl is thin on laughs or excitement, though the third reel does finally mix things together in a way that works if you watch it without allowing any braincells to move. Tom Vaughan directs without flair, obviously thinking that Cyrus has enough personality and charisma to carry such a light piece of entertainment from start to finish. She doesn’t.
While it would be easy to point at li’l Miss Cyrus and blame her for the whole mess, she tries hard and I’ll readily admit that some scenes were less painful than others. The fact that nobody comes out of this with much dignity intact shows that the fault may have been with the people who tried to spin a golden star vehicle out of straw.
Eloise Mumford is pretty good, and I’ll watch Jeremy Piven in just about anything, but Lauren McKnight, Megan Park and Morgan Calhoun don’t really do much at all. Mike O’Malley is alright in his small role, and Joshua Bowman will have some fans as he plays out his potential love interest role, but every silver lining has a cloud, which comes in the shape of Kelly Osbourne this time around. She acts as well as she sings, take that as you wish.
As much as I could stamp my feet and pull my hair and cry out about this being a horrible crime against cinema, it’s not. I didn’t think it was that good, and I can’t see even the target audience enjoying it THAT much, but I have, in terms of teen movies and any other kinds of movies, seen much much worse.
DIRECTOR: TOM VAUGHAN
WRITER: STEVEN PEARL, ALLAN LOEB
STARS: MILEY CYRUS, JEREMY PIVEN, MIKE O’MALLEY, JOSHUA BOWMAN, LAUREN MCKNIGHT, KELLY OSBOURNE, ELOISE MUMFORD, MEGAN PARK, MORGAN CALHOUN
RUNTIME: 94 MINS APPROX