Steven Strait as Luke Falcon
Pell James as Brier Tucket
Kip Pardue as Euan Falcon
Carrie Fisher as Carrie
Ashlee Simpson as Clea
Perrey Reeves as Michelle
Fisher Stevens as Garrett Schweck
Shannyn Sossamon as Josie
Peter Weller as Wick Treadway
Melissa Lawner as Christy
Stephen Moyer as Mick Benson
Cameron Thor as Cameron
Brian Scott as Jason
Ewan Chung as Brendan
Undiscovered is a ludicrous and unrealistic look at life, love and the music scene in L.A. that barely has the depth of a music video. It’s an enormous insult to anyone even remotely connected or trying to succeed in the music business.
Luke (Steven Strait) and Brier (Pell James) first see each other on a New York subway platform when he drops his glove and she picks it up as the train pulls away. Months later, they reconnect after both have moved to Los Angeles to find new careers–he as a musician and she as an actress. Brier uses her connections to get Luke’s band some attention, but as his career explodes, the chances of them having a relationship gets more doubtful. Can two young, beautiful people really fall in love in the crazy world of Los Angeles?
It’s ironic that this teen romantic musical dramedy about burgeoning careers might actually end some, but unfortunately, Ashlee Simpson, whose father executive produced this mess, probably won’t be one of them. Not that I’m one of those haters who thinks the younger Simpson sibling is completely untalented just because of the unfortunate “Saturday Night Live” incident. These things do happen, after all, but that doesn’t excuse this abomination of a movie, which is another story.
The opening fantasy scenario about an instant love connection on a New York City subway platform, a ludicrous enough concept that sets the stage for an inane cinematic ride. It doesn’t help that the three main characters–rocker Luke, his happy-go-lucky brother Euan, and Brier, the model they see on the subwayare so beautiful, and yet so utterly fake, that you immediately know that it will be impossible to warm up to them.
Fortunately, the movie is taken out of New York before things go really wrong. Once he arrives in Los Angeles, Luke ends up working dead-end minimum wage jobs to make a living while he struggles to make it as musician, playing a regular gig at a small rock club. Somehow, Brier, herself displaced to L.A. to start an acting career, gets dragged to the same club by her new best friend Clea (Ashlee). Their eyes connect across the club and they somehow remember each other from that brief encounter months earlier. Of course, Brier’s last cheating boyfriend was a famous rock star, complete with bad British accent, so she deflects Luke’s advances.
Instead, Brier and Clea decide to play a joke on loverboy Luke. Brier asks her agent (more on her later) to send their top supermodel Josie, a nutty Brazilian played too effortlessly by Shannyn Sossamon, to show Luke some attention at one of his gigs. Their plan backfires, because once the press gets wind of a possible tryst between Luke and the model, there’s more interest in his music, particularly from Garrett Schweck, sleazy owner of Tantric Records. Luke’s sudden rise is unprecedented, as he begins making his first album and playing larger venuess, but as Luke’s fame increases, he forsakes Brier in favor of Josie. Of course, no rock star could possibly succeed without getting involved in drugs, something we’ve learned from so many other bad Hollywood movies about the music biz, and soon Luke is losing his friends and then his record contract and then he can’t even play at his old haunts anymore.
Sure, it seems like a standard Hollywood rags-to-riches-and-back story, except that all of this seems to happen to Luke in a matter of days! Who knows what the producers of this film were thinking. Maybe they were trying to create something like “Singles” or “Almost Famous” but they forgot that good writing and acting were the main ingredients in making Crowe’s music-related films so special. If you even try to think about this convoluted plot for more than a few seconds, none of it makes any sense. Even ignoring the laughably bad script, it’s hard not to be insulted by the fact that this movie tries to hornswoggle audiences into thinking that this is how the L.A. music scene works. It sends a mixed message to fledgling musicians that no matter how talented you are or how hard you work at your craft, all you need is a bit of press and industry buzz to succeed. If this were true, I’m sure more young bands would pay pseudo-supermodels to dance at their gigs.
The role of Luke isn’t much of a stretch for Chris Cornell look and sound-alike Steven Strait, singer of the rock band Tribe who recently made the move to acting. His musical performances aren’t bad, but otherwise, it’s all method acting. Likewise, Pell James is gorgeous, and you can totally see her as a supermodel, but she can’t even act well enough to make you believe that she has the potential as a supermodel-turned-actress. Kip Pardue gives an equally embarrassing turn as Luke’s brother, who finds success in L.A. as the Afro-wearing leader of a party band. The scenes between Pardue and Strait, including the opening one, are so bad that they both seem ready to crack up at how bad their lines are.
Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher literally phones in her performance as Brier’s agent, also named Carrie, spending most of the film having pointless phone conversations with her clients, possibly meant to develop Brier as a character. Later, Carrie turns up in L.A. to help Brier with her Luke crisis. Of course, by then, they’ve all completely forgotten about Brier’s own acting career. Fisher’s joined in her fall from grace by Peter “RoboCop” Weller as whacked-out record exec “Wick Treadway”, a legend in the business who disappeared into oblivion but then returns to “make an appearance” at Luke’s big comeback show, furthering the illusion that it doesn’t matter how talented you are as a musician, if you have the right people show up at your gigs.
While I don’t have any problems with Ashlee’s music, her appearance in this movie is little more than an opportunity to be in a movie, doing little to prove that she’s any better an actress than her older sister. Then again, it gives her a chance to sing a few duets with Strait and an excuse for the movie to turn into not one, but two Ashlee Simpson music videos. If nothing else, it keeps the actors from talking for a bit.
None of the lousy performances hold a candle to the ridiculous cartoon stereotype by Fisher Stevens as the Tantric Records record executive. Imagine a more annoying version of Joe Pesci and you get some idea of how grating he is in every single scene. (The fact that Stevens is a partner at GreeneStreet Films, producers of “In the Bedroom,” boggles the mind, but this was produced by the makers of “Million Dollar Baby”, so go figure.)
Director Meiert Avis has directed some of U2’s best music videos, but for this movie, he couldn’t even find a cameraman who could focus the camera, let alone keep it from spinning wildly around the characters as they talked. Actually, almost everything bad about this movie can be traced back to Avis, because no self-respecting director involved in the music business should have let some of these bad performances or ridiculous scenes make it to the final cut.
The chance of the movie redeeming itself with a happy ending is ruined, because it goes on for ten minutes longer than it should. (Or 97 minutes longer for those who feel this project should never have been made.) After showing up for Luke’s gig, Brier heads back to New York without even saying goodbye. Luke chases after her, buying a ticket for the plane to New York. Of course, he can only afford coach and she’s in first class, so they meet up in the flight attendant’s area in between for a romantic reunion before “Wick” comes out to tell them that the plane is being diverted to the Bahamas so they can spend a romantic weekend together.
I might believe the subway love connection and maybe even believe that having a crazy supermodel dance at your gig will make you famous, but as tight as airline security is today, this plane would have been shot down if a crazy record exec tried to divert it. The producers should have had the foresight to do the same with this movie.
The Bottom Line:
Undiscovered is soap opera bad. It’s “Glitter” bad. It really is the worst movie of the year. Avoid it at all costs.