Punishment and penance usually follow confession. The people behind “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” need to schedule a long day of atonement for the mess they’ve wrought with this girl-power comedy.
Despite earnest performances from Lindsay Lohan and her teen co-stars, “Drama Queen” is a painfully unfunny affair dolled up with hip fashions and a gazillion-dollar music budget, none of the trappings able to disguise the story’s shallowness.
Welsh director Sara Sugarman’s follow-up to her well-received little musical comedy “Very Annie Mary” takes a creative step or nine backward in her big-studio debut.
Adapted by screenwriter Gail Parent from Dyan Sheldon’s novel, “Drama Queen” serves up a few colorfully choreographed musical numbers and fantasy sequences. But the play-within-the-movie finale is cloying — updating “Pygmalion” to modern New York City and featuring Lohan as Eliza Doolittle in sugary renditions of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” and David Bowie’s “Changes.”
Lohan plays Lola, a die-hard Manhattanite horrified at the prospect of moving to the New Jersey hinterlands with her mom (Glenne Headly) and twin sisters. Coming off a breakout performance in “Freaky Friday,” Lohan hurls herself into the role of Lola, but her spirited delivery is not enough to lift the movie out of banality.
Viewing herself as a “flamingo in a flock of pigeons,” Lola sets out to elevate the cultural sensibilities of her new classmates in Jersey.
She finds friends and allies in timid Ella (Alison Pill, showing her softer, mousier side after a terrific role as Katie Holmes’ shrewish sister in last year’s “Pieces of April”) and Sam (Eli Marienthal, stuck in a superficial part).
But class princess Carla (Megan Fox) and her gang of harpies set out to undermine Lola, who beats out Carla for the coveted lead in the school’s “Pygmalion” musical.
Much of the movie centers on Lola and Carla’s rivalry over the farewell concert of rock band Sidarthur and access to a post-show party at the New York loft of brooding lead singer Stu Wolff (Adam Garcia), whom Lola worships as the best poet since Shakespeare.
The movie wastes Headly in a drab mom’s role, while Carol Kane grates shrilly as Lola’s uptight drama teacher.
“Drama Queen” may well capture the single-minded intent of teens over inconsequential matters, but it’s a tiresome picture, watching Lola whine and prattle endlessly.