Momentarily delightful, then just phony. Damsels in Distress is an almost deliberately out of touch college movie, but it only had me smitten for about a half hour before I got tired of it. It’s a smart move to make college kids that aren’t hellbent alcoholics in a movie – many of my peers back in school had quirkiness like these girls. The rest of the movie isn’t so smart. Oddly, the males are jock/knucklehead caricatures. It’s a “satire” I suppose, but the male targets are way, way outdated. There is also no sense of pacing, with episodes that dawdle from one to the other. After about an hour, I wanted out. The nice musical number at the end was a small consolation.
Right out in front, I have never once cared for writer-director Whit Stillman. Most of you haven’t heard of him anyway. But he’s known for the snooty Ivy League picture “Metropolitan” (1991), quasi-romantic “Barcelona” (1994), the yuppies in nightclubs picture “The Last Days of Disco” (1998). “Damsels” is his best work, and that’s not saying much.
If Stillman is a second-rate W00DY ALLEN crib artist, then I can’t wait to see what Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”) could do in a real W00DY movie. She’s the dorky clique leader of a bunch of goody two-shoes. Most of these girls sheltered in a way that has them repeating pet phrases (“That boy is a playboy / operator / player”). The girls spend their time protecting each other from boys. They don’t go to class. Academic studies aren’t the point when it comes to Stillman’s universe.
Analeigh Tipton (“Crazy Stupid Love”) is the one girl that wants to break away and go out with boys. Greta and the others fret, but they too fall into the clutches of romance. Adam Brody (TV’s “The OC”) is the biggest name amongst the male cast, but although he’s sensitive, he’s also an ignoramus. Like all guys are, You Get It?!?! This movie is strictly for 11-year old girls who have decided for the time-being to put boys on the side.
99 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
TEEN COMEDY / INNER NERD APPEAL / WEEKDAY AFTER HOMEWORK MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Flirting” (1992); “Boys on the Side” (1995); “Mona Lisa Smile” (2003); “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” (2005).