The Lifeguard – Film Review
I got my Veronica Mars Movie poster in the mail today, so I thought what better way to celebrate this week’s release of the VMM than to totally slag off Kristen Bell.
The Lifeguard is rubbish.
Even by my dreary, hipster standards.
TL;DR Whiney, plodding, and offensively unbelievable, The Lifeguard is like a Lena Dunham production but without the gratuitous, dissatisfying boob shots. How Kristen Bell and Mamie Gummer thought this was a good idea is beyond reasoning. 2 out of 5 stars.
There is a dick shot, though. So suck on that, HBO.
The plot of the movie follows Kristen, a disaffected New York journalist who decides her life is too lame, so moves home to her small town to recapture her youth. She drags her 2 townie best friends from high school (Mamie Gummer and a maybe-gay guy called Todd) into her self-pitying web of drugs, loitering, and teenage predation. Kristen takes back her high school summer job as a lifeguard at a sleepy pool, and ends up fucking around with a 16 year old boy. Because, like, you know, whatever. Eventually shit gets awkward and Kristen leaves her childhood-grabbing fantasy to return to life as a celebrated journalist due to some other plot contrivance. Subplots include: Mamie and her husband having trouble conceiving a child; Mamie eventually getting sick of Kristen’s shit; Todd trying to also bang a teenager (unsuccessfully); said teenager committing suicide (not because of that, though); Kristen’s mum being a bored retiree; and none of these 3 adult main characters finding anything concerning about constantly hanging out and partying with 16 year old children.
Until Mamie finds out Kristen fucked one, then apparently that’s a step too far.
Ultimately, The Lifeguard doesn’t have anything to say. Its core message seems to be “growing up is hard.” Yeah, we know.
What makes it really fail is that Kristen’s life doesn’t appear to be particularly hard. She feels unappreciated at work, and is having an affair with her engaged boss. Bitch, you’re a gainfully employed journalist in New York City. That’s pretty fuckin’ cool.
And your fucking your boss is on you. Judging by the fact that he is the one who enters her tiger story into a prize (and it wins) of his own volition, it’s clear that she wasn’t fucking him to stay employed.
So essentially, she’s just sooking because she’s too much of a dipshit not to bone around with a soon-to-be-married man who is also her boss.
Life is soooooooo haaaaaaaaarrd, you guyyyyyyyyyyyys.
Why I hate this movie:
Her solution to this is, of course, to move home and become a minimum wage lifeguard. Because you’re not an indie movie character unless you’re brain damaged.
I want to chastise her for being gross enough to have a sexual relationship with a troubled 16 year old, but seeing how well her relationship in the city was picked out, I suppose she’s just crap at finding mates.
I’m also going to attack the movie for the inverse of this. Mamie is adamant that Kristen was committing statutory rape against Jason (the boy). I’ve looked up the age of consent in Connecticut, and it is 16. The caveat to this is that it’s raised to 18 “Where one person’s professional, legal, occupational or volunteer status gives him/her a role of supervision, power, or authority, over the other person’s participation in a program or activity, and the older person is at least 20-years-old.” Jason and Kristen originally had sex at the pool, so if you want to be a real stickler, that caveat should apply. But come on. She was barely supervising him when they were at the pool, and they spent most of their time together away from it. So the “taboo” of the plot hinges on a bullshit technicality.
Todd tries to follow in Kristen’s steps and makes a move on Jason’s best friend one night. There would be no illegality there, but come on, man. That’s gross.
Mamie and Todd slip very easily into the “go partying and drug taking and sometimes having sex with teenagers every night” lifestyle. Mamie is a fucking assistant principal, for fuck’s sake. What the hell, guys?
Mamie offloads all responsibility for everything she’s done onto Kristen. It’s probably better if you don’t have kids, honey.
She also tries some grandiose self-flagellation by trying to quit her job and going to Jason’s dad with the truth about him and Kristen. It falls hilariously flat.
EVERYONE IS SAD. EVERYONE IS SAD ALL THE TIME.
EVERYONE IS SELFISH. EVERYONE IS SELFISH ALL THE TIME.
Kristen seems surprised that she is fired from her city job when she just bloody disappears. Yep. Brain damaged.
Her article about the tiger that died while locked up in an apartment is textbook faux-profound.
Kristen does a bizarre look into the camera in the final frame. Creepy. Weird.
Oh, and if you want a “disaffected bitch goes home for some reason” movie that isn’t arduous filth, then just watch Young Adult. Much better.
But it’s not all bad:
Kristen Bell gets to say “cunt.” She does it during the best line of the movie, wherein she is complaining to Jason and his mohawked friend (the one Todd makes a move on) about being harassed by a bunch of foul-mouthed 10 year olds. This is about the leader child’s mother: “And some cunt just sat over there in her chair. Flippin’ through her magazine like I didn’t even need her help.” Kids are shit.
Jason and his friends bully the 10 year old into apologising to Kristen later. Justice is served.
The most affecting part of the movie comes when Mohawk gets fed up with waiting to leave town and begs Jason to come on their move to Vermont earlier than planned. Jason is having too much fun with Kristen, so says it’s okay to wait. Mohawk apparently leaves for Vermont on his own. When Kristen and Jason are searching for her missing cat later, they instead find Mohawk hanging from a tree, having committed suicide. As pissed off as I was in the movie for being such a disappointment by this point, I still found it genuinely sad and not manufactured sensationalism. Jason’s distraught reaction and Kristen’s wake-up to what she’s doing help sell it.
When Todd makes his subtle move on Mohawk, Mohawk surprised me by claiming that he’s not gay, and he was more insulted by Todd ruining the D&M they were having. Not for the homosexual advance. What a sweet kid.
Mamie’s husband may be a constant jerk, but he is one of the only people to tell Mamie that hey, acting like teenagers while hanging around with actual teenagers is fuckin’ weird.
He flops peen, too. So he deserves some points for that.
Kristen’s boss lover is the captain from Beauty & the Beast.
She gives the $1000 prize money from her story to Jason to help him still go to Vermont. Which he does.
Jason’s dad tells Mamie he doesn’t really give a fuck about his son and Kristen having sex. Especially in light of his best friend’s goddamn suicide.
Kristen’s cat does come back.
Oh, and everyone reconciles by the end of the movie. Which was nice for a change.
The only reason I know Lena Dunham didn’t write this is because I know even she isn’t crazy enough to give herself a role that requires wearing a red leotard for a lot of the runtime. The abundant selfishness and concluding futility still have me questioning it, though. 2 out of 5 stars.