Girl in Progress

Coming of Age Nonsense

         
 

11 May 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Meant as tender empathy for teen girls, but as misguided as they come. Girl in Progress is just awful, despite a dedicated and jaunty performance by Eva Mendes (“Hitch”) as single-mom-in-training Grace. Daughter Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez), barely thirteen, is one of those plucky teens who gets in trouble for being too smart for her own good. She’s a chess whiz, an oral presentation dynamo in class, and is more responsible at home than her own mother when it comes to chores. Ansiedad gets the idea in her head that it’s time to go through a coming of age ritual, which she decides to speed up. One of those rites is to lose her virginity. The tone of the movie is quirky young adult consoler, with pathos and poignancy, and a dash of after school TV message hankering.

If only parenting was easier. Grace is a habitual flake trying to make that transition into self-actualizing career woman. She’s a slow starter approaching age 40. She’s behind on her daughter’s school payments – waitressing at the clam shack just ain’t cutting it. She is having an affair with a married man (Matthew Modine), but the passion is losing its buoyancy. There’s only a hinted-whiff of frolicking between them, for most of the time the movie shows them arguing. He wants to leave his wife, he’s just waiting for the right time. As a result, Grace is losing patience. The further conflict is that with all her hopping around she is often an absentee parent.

Ansiedad has been issued by the screenplay exactly one friend, a cherubic fatbody for a best friend. But her coming of age ritual requires to betray her friendship (do this by vilifying her friend’s body weight in front of a crowd), fall into the bad-girl clique, “maybe do drugs,” have her first kiss, lose her virginity… oh, and I nearly forgot, witness her grandma’s death. She doesn’t have a grandma, so she will take up on one at the local convalescent home.

Quick: Can you guess what transpires during Ansidad’s “deflowering” scene at a decadent cool-kids party with surplus of alcohol? Will she go through with it or have a change of heart? Well, I bet you can’t guess what happens to the cash register when Grace gets her big break to prove her responsibility to run the restaurant while her boss is on leave? Uh, maybe you can.

“Girl in Progress” isn’t a venerable heart-tugger. It’s a sourly mishandled movie – an embarrassment. Patricia Riggen directs, it’s her first film since “Under the Same Moon” (2007), another example of shameless treacle. Eugenio Derbez, Russell Peters and Patricia Arquette co-star.

96 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

TEEN DRAMEDY / LIFE LESSONS / BAD MOVIES WE HATE

Film Cousins: “Mermaids” (1990); “This Boy’s Life” (1993); “Angie” (1993); “Thirteen” (2003).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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