Saturday, July 25, 2009


“Far From Home” director Meiert Avis’ romantic musical comedy “Undiscovered” (*** out of ****)is a sweetly sentimental fairy tale saga about the obstacle course that young lovers run in their relationships. Lurking within this deceptively lightweight movie is a message about fame versus creativity. People sell their souls for fame, but fame is only the foam, whereas creativity is the bedrock for everything in life. A confused but sympathetic model suffering from love trouble with her cheating rock star boyfriend and an aspiring songwriter collide entirely by accident when a New York subway train disgorges its passengers. She catches one of his gloves on the way onto the train while he stands transfixed on the platform watching her slip away on the departing train. Later, each winds up moving to glittering Los Angeles. He wants to break into the musical scene, while she wants to get into acting. Ostensibly, newcomer John Galt has penned a screenplay that consists of 98 minutes of PG-13 rated soap opera galore not only about the perils of love but also the mercurial music business. Initially, I thought “Undiscovered” little more than a potboiler about twentysomething love (which it is to a certain degree) until I caught it the second time around and discovered its deeper ‘undiscovered’ values. The cast is first-rate with Pell James and Steven Strait making this love story entirely tolerable because of their sincere, soft-spoken performance. Avis displays the right balance that keeps “Undiscovered” from curdling into syrupy sap.

Slinky model Brier Tucket (Pell James of “Broken Flowers”) is boarding the subway when she runs into two brothers, the younger one Luke Falcon (Steven Strait of “Covenant”) and the older one Euan Falcon (Kip Pardue of “Driven”) and she accidentally snags Luke’s glove as they pass. Immediately, Luke realizes that he has allowed the best thing in his life get away from him. Luke gushes to Euan about her as the prettiest girl that he has ever seen, while Euan complains about his brother losing the gloves that he borrowed from him. Brier ponders if it was destiny that Luke and she met or was it simply random chance. She carries on endless conversations with Carrie (Carrie Fisher of “Star Wars”) on the phone about Luke. Eventually, a couple of years afterward, Brier decides that she would like to take a stab at acting. Out in Los Angeles, Brier meets up with another aspiring actress/singer Clea (Ashlee Simpson) in her acting class who treats Luke like a brother and sometimes accompanies him on a song. Luke barely makes ends meet for a while, working at the local humane shelter and later at a yogurt shop. He enjoys himself the most singing and playing music at nightspots around L.A. and has a trained bulldog that rides a skateboard. Actually, the bulldog is the funniest things about this movie.

The screenplay is all about girl meets guy, girl wants guy, but girl has been screwed over by a previous guy and she cannot handle getting screwed over again. Mind you, Luke is obsessed by Brier. Brier and her rock star boyfriend Mick (Stephen Moyer of HBO’s “True Blood”) conclude their long-distance love affair because he loves to cheat on her. Sadly, Brier is the worst for the wear and tear on the soul that she has been exposed to by the horny British rocker. When she meets Luke, she likes him, but she fears their fling will turn into another bittersweet bust. She need not have worried because Luke really doesn’t want to be a rocker. Luke reminds Brier constantly about his aspirations and informs her at one point that he is a one-gal guy. Mick, however, has made Brier skeptical about men in general. Nevertheless, Luke intrigues her enough so that well-intentioned Clea and she, with Carrie’s help, bolster his career. They turn Luke into him a sudden, overnight sensation that brings out the worst in the music business. Namely, Tantra records honcho Garrett Schweck (Fisher Stevens of “Reversal of Fortune”) signs Luke to a contract. Actually, all the hoopla on the Internet that Clea and Brier generated along with their acting friends posing as music executives fooled the opportunistic Garrett into signing Luke. When Garrett discovers that he has been duped, he drops Luke like a hot potato and cancels his contract.

Girls just want to have it their way is what this movie is about. The message is don’t be a flash-in-the-pan rock star; go into publishing and survive for the long haul. Peter Weller gives “Undiscovered” its final quarter-hour boost in a walk-on part he plays Wick Treadway, as a high-profile record company owner, while Fisher Stevens excels as an unsavory album producer. This movie is light as a soap bubble but glistens with substance. Girls attending an all-night pajama party with their stuffed bears would love this semi-music video, while older individuals may find themselves trying to wipe the tears out of their eyes before anybody else catches them. I bought it at a cheap sale at Movie Gallery and couldn’t believe how endearing—yes—endearing that it was. The last minute dash to LAX by Luke in his brother Euan’s colorful retro-Volkswagen bus is surprisingly suspenseful, even though you know Brier and he will solve their problems and live happily ever after.

Indeed, the atmospheric cinematography of Danny Hiele of “Shades” gives Avis’ movie more depth than you’d imagine. The complications in this kind of chick flick drives guys crazy and that only a teenage girl without a boyfriend would enjoy since it has no grasp on reality. Kuma, Luke's Runyon Canyon Dog, steals every scene that he is in with his real ‘live’ skateboarding antics. Dyed-in-the-wool romantics should stock up on Kleenex.

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