`Undiscovered' is a cute trifle about young love

Movie Reviews

August 26, 2005|By Roger Moore | Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL

You want fame?" Debbie Allen used to preach on TV. "Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sweat."

And a plane ticket. To L.A. Because to make it in music or TV or the movies, L.A.'s where the young, the beautiful and the ambitious need to be.

They're all rock stars, movie stars or TV phenomena in the making. They're just Undiscovered.

Pell James and Steven Strait star in this end-of-summer trifle about a model who just wants to act and a songwriter who wants to play because, "It's all about the music, man."

This young-love/young-ambition soap opera has a cute kind of grit about it. It's like the pilot for a Fox series during the age of 90210 and The Heights, and it's aimed at an audience too young to remember those cultural "milestones."

Boy meets girl - sort of - on the New York subway.

He drops a glove. She picks it up and calls to him.

But she's on a train. The doors are sliding shut.

And he does the most selfless, romantic thing. He tosses her the other one.

Of course they're fated to meet again. A year will slip by and miles will pass as Luke moves to L.A. and, by golly, Luke will wear out that videotape his goofy brother shot of his last day in NYC and almost meeting the girl of his dreams on the subway.

Because this is true love. And if he's waiting to be signed to a record label, sooner or later the model will say, "I wanna try acting!" and move to L.A.

The romance never quite ticks over because, well, she's had one rock star boyfriend and that's enough. He's sensitive, in that Michael Hutchence sort of brooding alterna-rocker way. That's no guarantee of fame.

But then Brier (James) and her new best pal, Clea, played by Ashlee Simpson, conspire with Brier's supermodel super-agent aunt (Carrie Fisher) to create buzz for Luke's band.

Fisher Stevens, goofing on the idea of what a record company A&R man is like, is conned into signing Luke. And there's your fame, right?

Not quite.

There's almost no script here. We don't spend much time in acting class, or on auditions or photo shoots or in bars or doing recording sessions. The movie loses track of more stuff than it keeps track of.

But it's not hard to see what old pros Fisher and Stevens and Peter Weller saw in this. It may be a cheesy lark, but life bubbles through the cheese.

Music-video director Meiert Avis uses handheld cameras, lighting and a bag full of throwaway moments to make this worth a matinee admission, even if you're not 16.

Luke's bulldog rides a skateboard down to Venice Beach every day with him. His brother, played by Kip Pardue, is a busker, a street musician who goofs around in cover bands playing for strippers.

Funny stuff. And we see parts of L.A. we haven't seen in 400 earlier movies.

If the kids show up for this, it'll be for the hot young cast. But from the looks of it, the director is the real Undiscovered talent.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Undiscovered

Starring Pell James, Kip Pardue, Steven Strait, Carrie Fisher, Ashlee Simpson

Directed by Meiert Avis

Released by Lions Gate

Time 92 minutes

Rated PG-13 (sexual material including dialogue, partial nudity, language, drug content)

SUN SCORE * * 1/2 (2 1/2 STARS)

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