Struck By Lightning– Movie Review
Writer-producer-star Chris Colfer is in familiar territory in Struck By Lightning. An award-winning lead in Fox’s hit series Glee (where he plays flamboyant gay outcast Kurt), Colfer here portrays another (not so flamboyant) small town high school outcast whose name begins with a percussive. Both his script and performance are imbued with humor, quirkiness, anger, and real angst. But the film never really breaks free from high school movie stereotypes, or a cluttered structure.
The film follows Carson, a snarky, superior, and smart high school senior in the town of Clover. Carson wants to be a journalist more than anything: he edits the school paper, leads the Writers Club, and holds down top grades so he can go to his first (and only) choice school. When a guidance counselor suggests that starting a Literary Journal will help his chances, he blackmails the whole school into helping him- all while juggling a depressed and alcoholic mom, a distant re-marrying father, and a grandmother with dementia.
Stellar acting goes a long way in Struck. The cast, including Colfer, is a crazy mix of young Hollywood and veterans, all very talented, in roles both big and small, including: Rebel Wilson, Sarah Hyland, Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, Christina Hendricks, Angela Kinsey- even Ken Marino in a single scene as a believably smug doctor. The scenes between Colfer and Janney (playing his mother) wonderfully expressed love and concern with genuine vitriol- I wish there had been more.
But ultimately, the great acting can’t conceal the jumpy and cliché script. The characters all fit neatly into established high school tropes: cheeleaders, jocks, drama nerds, rich kid, etc. There’s even a montage at the beginning to identify them all. And in a scene towards the end, the students turn to one another to insist that they are not clichés- not a good sign.
The plot picks up and drops off points as needed, trying to address too much and giving short shrift to some of the compelling human elements. The blackmail plotline almost halfway through the film, and doesn’t really carry on. Neither does the mention or implications of Carson being forced to take anti-depressants. Some loopholes (wouldn’t he have gotten an e-mail from Northwestern?) were too big to ignore; and the ending came- well- suddenly.
Still, this was a promising writing and producing debut from Colfer, and I am eager to see what’s next.
Did you see Struck By Lightning? What did you think?