Directed by Derick Martini from a screenplay adapted by Andrea Portes from her own novel,"Hick" is part road movie and part coming-of-age story but mostly plays like some creepy-perv fantasia looking for mileage from the mature-beyond-her-years presence of young star Chloe Grace Moretz.
As a movie-obsessed 13-year-old who runs away from her barfly parents, Moretz's character finds herself batted between a slightly older grifter-drifter (Blake Lively) and a reckless cowboy (Eddie Redmayne). With its fairy-tale tinge, the film has neither the fever-dream discomfort of "Wild at Heart" nor the satirical oomph of "Lolita." Much of "Hick" feels poorly thought out.
Martini never reconciles whether he really wants to own the uncomfortable lecherousness with which he repeatedly presents Moretz's lithesome young body; he doesn't properly acknowledge the distinction between freewheeling and sleazy. When the film gets to the seemingly inevitable rape scene, the way the camera pans across an open field seems to imply the action is neither demure nor tasteful but, rather, a cop-out, underlining an inability to confront real danger and ugliness.
There is a tender energy between Moretz and Lively, one lady hustler showing another the rules of the road, but the machinations of the story keep them apart for a massive chunk of screen time, with the unformed Redmayne character having Moretz to himself for a long stretch.
Even a late cameo by the dependable Alec Baldwin, who appeared in Martini's film "Lymelife," is too little too late. This "Hick" should be sent back to the sticks.
'Hick' -- 1 1/2 stars
MPAA rating: R (for disturbing content involving a teen, violence, drug use, language and drinking)
Running time: 1:35
Opens: FridayCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times