Trailer Face-Off! LOL vs. Girl in Progress


Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: LOL vs. Girl in Progress, two films about teenaged girls’ rebellion and the moms they love to disdain.

concerns a girl named Lola (Miley Cyrus), whose teen years are a veritable breakfast buffet of house parties, kissing dudes, IMing, journal-writing, and exotic foreign vacations. She’s angsty (“It’s good to love someone so much it hurts. I don’t know how people survive this,” she journals in voiceover, triggering the gag reflexes of non-teenagers everywhere), and she makes her mom, Anne (Demi Moore) so aggravated that Anne goes to her mom (Marlo Thomas) for comfort. Girl in Progress is also about a teenager and her mom: Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) and Grace (Eva Mendes), respectively. Ansiedad’s learning about coming-of-age stories in school, but Grace is the one who needs to grow up; she doesn’t even have a high school degree, and she’s sleeping with a married man. Sick of taking care of her messed-up mom, Ansiedad decides she wants to skip adolescence altogether, only to learn it’s not that easy! Girl in Progress lays it on a little thick with the bildungsroman stuff—but at least it seems to have a discernible plot, and a teenaged character who earns at least a little sympathy. Advantage: Girl in Progress

Besides Mendes (whose character is as much the star of the film as her daughter, if not more), Girl in Progress boasts Matthew Modine as the married man whose house Grace cleans, with whom she’s having an affair, as well as Patricia Arquette as Anciedad’s teacher. Respectable talent, but Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore are bigger stars than Ramirez and Mendes; and LOL also features Twilight‘s Ashley Greene, Hung‘s Thomas Jane, and Gina Gershon. Advantage: LOL

Teenage Rebellion
In LOL, Lola drinks, kisses boys, trashes her house, and gets a bad report card—forcing her mom to exclaim, “A B in math, a C in history, a D in biology?!,” her neck getting veinier and veinier. And then she goes to Paris, for reasons that remain completely opaque. “She’s at that special age,” the trailer’s voiceover helpfully asserts. It’s no more or less heavy-handed than Girl in Progress‘ trailer, in which Grace asks her daughter, “Why are you being so impossible?!” and receives “I’m a teen!” in response. Ansiedad’s acts of rebellion are pretty comparable to Lola’s: she decapitates her teddy bears, disses her mom, and tries to run away from home. But she also cleans up after Grace, even hanging up her mom’s shoes when she’s passed out facedown on her bed. Because Ansiedad’s frustration seems a little more warranted than Lola’s—who just seems obnoxious—we’ll give her the win. Advantage: Girl in Progress

School Employee Wisdom
“A coming-of-age story is the story of a young person’s inner change from child to adult,” Patricia Arquette’s Girl in Progress teacher character explains, in earnest, in what may be the most egregious recent example of the “everything-movie-characters-read-in-class-is-uncannily-relevant-to-their-lives” trope. She seems to really care about her students or whatever, but we really prefer Girl in Progress‘ school administrator, who delivers what may be the trailer’s only funny joke: “This is as much as I laugh,” she says wearily before Lola and her paramour can explain why they’re late to school. Advantage: Girl in Progress

director Lisa Azuelos has been a director since 1995, but LOL is only her fourth feature—the other three are Ainsi soient-elles, and Hey Good Looking!, and a 2008 French version of this same film, this one called LOL (Laughing Out Loud) ®, which, as far as we’re concerned, shouldn’t count (even if she did win a Jury Prize at the Monte-Carlo Film Festival for it). Girl in Progress director Patricia Riggen, on the other hand, has seven titles under her belt, including a Michael Caine/Shirley MacLaine vehicle due out next year. She also won a ton of awards, including a Student Academy Award, for her short The Cornfield. Advantage: Girl in Progress

The Verdict
We’re pretty wary about both of these movies, to be honest—the schlock potential in both cases is high. But we’re so immediately, viscerally turned off by the title character in LOL—and so unconvinced that Demi Moore, with her “It looks really bad. You’re grounded!,” can save it—that it’s really no contest. Maybe Girl in Progress will have something interesting to say about how it’s never too late to grow up, or whatever. Winner: Girl in Progress 


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