"Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" is so much like a colorful, fanciful pop-up Valentine's card that it should have opened last weekend, yet a movie as funny and sharply exuberant as this Disney production is welcome any time. This affectionate satire of the clichés of the teen-angst movie effectively teams "Freaky Friday's" Lindsay Lohan with Alison Pill, recently seen in "Pieces of April," brings on Megan Fox as the sleekest of villains and affords Carol Kane one of the wackiest roles of her career.
Lohan's smart but self-dramatizing 15-year-old, Lola Cep, has just been handed what she considers a fate worse than death: Her divorced mother (Glenne Headly) is moving the family from their Manhattan apartment to that terrible wasteland, New Jersey. Never mind that their new home is a charmer in the leafy, upscale commuter community of Dellwood (actually Montclair).
A girl has to make the best of it, so off goes Lola, whose real name is merely Mary, to high school decked out in a harem-like outfit. She makes a vivid impression, striking up a friendship with Ella (Pill), a shy rich girl with whom she shares a passion for the British rocker Stu Wolff, lead singer of Sidarthur. Lola is immediately snubbed by the most popular girl in school, Fox's gorgeous but humorless and self-important Carla, who can't resist dropping that her entertainment lawyer father rep-resents Sidarthur along withJewel and other music luminaries.
Lola, an aspiring actress (what else?), and Carla swiftly find themselves competing for the title role in "Eliza Rocks," which their drama teacher (Kane) has reworked from Shaw's "Pygmalion." At about the same time Sidarthur announces it is splitting up — but not before giving a farewell concert in Manhattan, and Lola determines that she and Ella must attend it, as well as the after-party to which Carla has already secured an invitation.
Veteran writer Gail Parent and relative newcomer director Sara Sugarman, in perfect sync, understand that these events are earthshaking to Lola and view her compassionately, yet find her self-absorbed lack of perspective an endless source of humor. Parent, who created and produced the classic spoofy soap "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and was a co-executive producer of "The Golden Girls," has a scintillating way with dialogue. Losing out to Lola in the competition for Eliza, Carla insists she got the role she really wanted, Mrs. Higgins, who she asserts has "contemporary resonance." When Lola is down in spirits she declares she is in a state of depression "only Hamlet could understand."
Lola and Ella's adventures in Manhattan and the staging of "Eliza Rocks" are so inspired and hilarious that it wouldn't be right to reveal them. Let's just say the school play "Eliza Rocks" is so clever and energetic the filmmakers have it both ways: It's funny and sensational. Burning away inside Kane's ultra-hyper Miss Baggoli, whose tight curls, sensible shoes and dowdy clothes were something of a rarity in a classroom even in the '40s, is an Andrew Lloyd Webber and Twyla Tharp. Beneath its zaniness, Kane's inspired portrayal is a homage to every eccentric but dedicated and impassioned teacher.
"Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" fizzes and sparkles with its crisp, vital performances, and its witty energy extends to Lola's extravagant fantasies. But it is anchored in the emotional reality of Lola liberating the inhibited Ella, who returns the favor by forcing her friend to get in touch with herself and not run away from troubles mainly of her own making.
At a time when crassness and dumbing down pervade popular entertainment, especially movies aimed at youthful audiences, "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" dares to be smart.
'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen'
MPAA rating: PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
Times guidelines: Suitable for all ages
Carol Kane...Miss Baggoli
Adam Garcia...Stu Wolff
A Buena Vista Pictures release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation produced in association with Argentum Film Produktion GmbH & Co. Betriebs KG. Director Sara Sugarman. Producers Robert Shapiro.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times