'Undiscovered' And Really Not Worth Looking For

Pell James plays a model who moves to Los Angeles to become an actress and eventually meets Steven Strait, a struggling musician and, uh, forget it.
Pell James plays a model who moves to Los Angeles to become an actress and eventually meets Steven Strait, a struggling musician and, uh, forget it. (Photos By Chuck Zlotnick -- Lions Gate Films)

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By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 26, 2005

I was going to say this in last week's review of "Asylum," but I held off, knowing that we still had 4 1/2 months to go and that it was early yet to make such categorical statements. I'm glad I demurred, because it turns out that "Undiscovered" just may be the dumbest movie of 2005.

Surely some D-list stalking horse will steal that title some time in October, but for now, we'll let the title stand (and give the reportedly dismal "The Cave" a pass). All comers, be warned: To match or beat "Undiscovered" for banality, boredom and sheer badness, you'll have to assemble an improbably gorgeous cast of mactors and mactresses (that's model-actors and -actresses to the uninitiated) and force them to lend credence to a script whose dialogue is as cheesy as its plot is contrived.

"Undiscovered," about a group of young performers trying to make it in Los Angeles, is sort of a cross between HBO's "Unscripted" and your garden-variety Gen X TV show. Indeed, I'd say "Undiscovered" belongs on the WB, but that would be gravely unfair to the channel, which looks like the BBC in comparison.

The story at hand hinges on a young mactress named Brier Tucket, played by Pell James in a weirdly smirking, way-too-cute performance, who moves from New York to L.A. to break into Hollywood; with a copy of "An Actor Prepares" snugly ensconced in the pocket of her $165 jeans, she befriends a ragtag group of gutsy newcomers, who in turn introduce her to a struggling musician named Luke Falcon (the terrific Steven Strait, recently seen in "Sky High"). Gushes Brier's best friend, played by the chipmunk-voiced paptress -- that's pop star-actress -- Ashlee Simpson, "He's kind of like a cross between Jeff Buckley and Elvis Costello."

A word to the wise: He's not.

The two girls soon hatch a plot to create a media buzz around the guitar-playing hottie, and naturally their plan works all too well. (Inexplicably aiding and abetting the co-conspirators are some grown-ups who should know better, played by actors who should know better: Carrie Fisher, Fisher Stevens and Peter Weller.) When the fame and the money and the groupies all inevitably come crashing down around Luke's carefully un-coiffed head, one of the adorable co-conspirators is actually heard to wail, "All we tried to do was make a nice guy a rock star!"

Mwah! Make it stop! "Undiscovered," which has been perpetrated on the unsuspecting public by a writer named John Galt and a (why is this not a surprise?) music video director named Meiert Avis, goes to shameless lengths to make itself interesting, including some ridiculous scenes at a batting cage and an amateur trapeze school; when things get really desperate, the filmmakers insert a shot of a skateboarding bulldog.

Finally, as Brier and Luke prettily make their way to a risible climax, their day is saved by Wick Treadway, a Chris Blackwell-like music executive with a name only Baba Wawa could love.

Unbewievable, just like the rest of "Undiscovered," which with any luck will quickly disappear unnoticed, unseen and unmourned.

Undiscovered (97 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for sexual material, including dialogue, partial nudity, profanity and drug content.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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