I’ve taken to letting Netflix choose what I watch as I had found that I rarely step outside my comfort zone when it comes to movies. The one for two nights ago; So Undercover. I had never heard of it before and I didn’t even know Miley Cyrus was back into acting, never mind that she had a film coming out.
But in hindsight, maybe she didn’t want anyone to know about this one. When it comes to this kind of teenage film, I don’t like picking on the obvious flaws, like kids having too much money to just throw around and their parents are nowhere to be seen, or the “we all just happen to be in the right place at the right time” scenarios that line up perfectly. That’s part of the reason people watch these films, because they let us live these perfect lifestyles for the hour and a half odd that we watch them for, and they make for great comedy when you and your mates are in a cynical mood and looking for a good laugh.
So now that we have the obvious out of the way, I would like to discuss the multiple problems I had with this film. To be fair, most of them presented in the first twenty minutes of the film and then after that it just kind of fell into the usual teen movie, so I just let most of it slide after that.
But those first twenty minutes were rough going. Cyrus’s acting was a bit wooden at best, it was like they were filming live and she was taking time to warm up. I am willing to forgive a small percentage of that though, given the script and situation she was left to deal with. So the premise of the movie is very simple; Miley Cyrus or Molly is a private investigator, who seems to deal mostly with cheating spouses. She photographs them and then presumably hands the evidence over to their partner for a price. She’s approached by the FBI to be some kind of undercover body guard for a teenage girl in a sorority house, and then she has to navigate through college life, and girlfriends, and boys and yada yada yada.
Ok so lets overlook the fact that the FBI recruited someone with no official training and was arguably breaking laws by breaking and entering properties in order to get her photos. I’ve never been recruited by FBI but I would imagine they don’t do it in a coffee shop at volumes that anyone can hear. Anyway, they decide to bring her in to give her a make over because she’s too “rough” to fit her in with all the other barbie dolls on an american campus. I had a headache watching her.. I guess stylist? talking to her. The writer of this film is the human embodiment of the phrase “Hello fellow kidz!”. She keeps using words like “totes” and “amazeballs”. I don’t hang out with teenagers anymore, but those phrases were considered embarrassing when I was in school, so I can only imagine hearing those words now would make any “teens” face fold in like they were sucking on a lemon.
And the fact that there had to be a few years age gap between Molly and the stylist and she’s cracking out all these ‘hip’ words and Molly pretends she’s never heard them.. bitch, you’re closer to being a child than she is, you either know actual terms that kids are using, or you at least have a better idea than this 30-something year old! So Molly clowns up and ships out, but not before we get that “here’s your brand new car, don’t fuck it up” bit, and Molly gets to ask if she can’t just use her motorbike. The motorbike will be important later, so the film won’t let you forget that she RIDES A BIKE LIKE A REALLY COOL GIRL.
One thing that kind of threw me off was that she agrees to join the FBI for the money, and she needs the money because of her dads bad gambling debt. This kind of dark aspect is thrown in right at the beginning, she mentions something about his gambling to him, and then we’re being shown him coming home kind of late at night and she uses her mad detective skills to figure out where he was. And then he confesses to losing 17k gambling. That’s not a small problem, that is massive problem, that’s not a couple of tenners a week, that’s a small house loan in one night… and then it is never mentioned ever again for the rest of the film. We don’t see him looking for help, or talking to anyone about it, we don’t see Molly too stressed or anything. It just disappears. This came so left field to me, they could have given her any amount of motivation to need the money; one of the rooms in their house needed fixing, her bike breaks down and needs an expensive part.. she wants to buy her dad a nice Christmas present, any of these would have made me shrug my shoulders and say “yeah, I mean I would do that too.” There was no need to make it that dark, unless they were thinking of highlighting this issue and how they would deal with it. But like I said, it’s never dealt with, and never mentioned again… it just seemed like they were very haphazardly trying to give the film more depth, but without any effort.
And finally, to end this on a little lighter note, I couldn’t not mention the motorbike. So we are introduced to her bike in the first 2 minutes or so of the film, and straight away I have a lot of admiration for the fact that they didn’t just throw her on a Harley Davidson or something like a massive sports bike just for the look of it. They put her on a nice small bike and I can respect that. Not that girls can’t ride big bikes, boy can they! But that they don’t just hop her up on something cos it looks good, so credit where credit is due. I’ll even ignore the fact that she rides it without gloves, leathers, and the helmet is never actually closed. What did make me roll my eyes though, is that the bike is used to make her that “I’m not like other girls”, when she approaches a guy on campus who is working on his bike and she is able to say the make and model of the bike and the type of engine it has. And he is all impressed by this. I have grown to hate this agenda of if you want to make a girl seem sexy but she doesn’t know it, have her rattle off some stuff about a car or a bike or computers, and the guy is amazed that she knows this and she’s so different from every other girl he’s ever met ‘cos she’s like one of the guys. It’s over done. And it’s now breeding a possibly more annoying stereotype of girls in movies than the “popular girls” and I’m scared it will leak into normal life.
I was hoping this would be like Emily in Paris, where when you get past the first episode or two you find yourself rooting for people, or liking the characters or something like that. But this film didn’t get good for me at all, it was hard work, and seeing as it was my movie before bed, I felt a bit robbed. The dialogue was forced, the actors all wooden, the scenarios were meh, and the fight scene at the end was just 2 people jumping through a window, and 10 seconds of scrambling for a gun. I was hoping for some really cool choreographed punching or something. In my humble opinion, I hope Cyrus sticks to the day job, because her singing is where her talent is at, the days of Hannah Montanna are OVER.