Sunday, January 18, 2015

#53 Popstar (Wes)

So it had to happen at some point I guess. Colin and I had to watch our first comedy based purely at the early teen girl market, Popstar. At this point we had a choice. We could have a sleepover, with pizza and Coca Cola and braid each others hair whilst we talked about boys, or we could just damn well sit down and get this movie watched and out of the way. I knew I should have had pizza.

JD McQueen (Aaron Carter), or Justin Bieber of House Baratheon as I like to call him, is a world famous teen popstar, who apparently grosses $10,000,000 a year. His mother isn’t too happy that he’s not passing his grades whilst being home-schooled though, so she decides to send him to a public high school. Here he meets Jane Brighton (Alana Austin), a perfect student, who wears braces, both of those things apparently makes her a geek. JD needs to pass what is apparently the only class in the school, which is maths, which Jane is really good at, so he strikes up a friendship with her. As he gets to know her, he starts to fall in love with her, but when he copies her answers in a maths test she gets mad at him and says she doesn’t want to see him. But it turns out that he has testophobia and that’s a real thing apparently, so he retakes his maths test and it turns out that he’ll be REALLY good at counting his money when he dives into his private vault like Scrooge McDuck used to do, so they can live happily ever after now as everyone has learnt some important life lessons or something.

The first thing I learnt when researching this movie is that Aaron Carter actually was/is a popstar. The fact that I’ve never heard of him before is probably no surprise as he was clearly aimed at the tween audience of The Disney Channel (his acting debut was in an episode of Lizzie McGuire) and Nickelodeon. Apparently this film was based on his life as a performer, but reading his wiki page I’m not entirely sure how accurate that is. It says nothing of him dating a regular girl, falling in love with her smile and intelligence, it does however say he dated Lindsay Lohan, who I’m guessing may have given him acting lessons, as his performance really is as poor as her dreadful turn in I Know Who killed Me (see here for more on that).
So that was the research, what I learned when watching this movie is that girls on sleepovers don’t actually giggle and have pillow fights like I always thought they did, but apparently their favourite thing is watching movies that feature maths tests. This has to be correct, as I can’t imagine there would be any other reason why there would be 3 maths test scenes, plus a maths lesson in this movie. It just wouldn’t add up! (sorry). I can only assume that this movie was made as a response to the amount to teenage girls swooning over Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, and sitting up way past their bedtimes discussing Darren Aronofsky’s striking debut movie Pi.

After my lesson in maths, I also learned that whereas many people in the 70s and 80s may have enjoyed watching films that featured montages ranging from physical training (Rocky), shopping (National Lampoon’s European Vaction), dancing all night long (Footloose), and even skipping school and visiting an art museum (Ferris Bueller’s Day off), what all of these movies lacked and what teenage girls have been crying out for was a haircut montage. How did so many movie makers get it so wrong for so long?
Could this movie get any more exciting? Well after all that excitement of maths and haircuts we also get to see the drama of Jane getting a zit right before her date! This is obviously a nightmare that every teenager faces at some point, but it was done with such skill and passion that for a moment you forget you’re watching a movie and find yourself running to the bathroom cabinet in search of some Clearicil to help her out. Well not really. What you actually find is that you have made pact not to fight with pillows anymore, but to use them to suffocate each other in a suicide pact to get out of watching this stinking movie.

Now I’m no expert on movies aimed at the young girls market. I have no wish to watch High School Musical, The Princess Diaries or Twilight, but I know they have their audiences who love them and so do the job they are meant to. I can’t see anyone but the most rabid fan of Aaron Carter (or maths tests) loving this though. It patronises its audience by giving them every lazy cliché it can, and to make matters worse it doesn’t even do that very well. I think people underestimate kids a lot, and this movie is hugely guilty of that.
As you’d expect for a movie for a young audience, there is no sex, violence or swearing. So if you want to give your child something to watch that will protect them from the horrors of the world, then sit them in front of Popstar. Of course those horrors include other things such as plot, good acting, decent dialogue, humour, and any lesson that isn’t maths. Of course if you’re older than twelve you really have no business watching this movie anyway, unless for some reason you drunkenly agreed to watch a list of the worst movies ever made, and what kind of idiot does that?