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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

eFilmcritic Archive: "Undiscovered" (2005)

I’ve been reviewing Pop Star movies for about four years now. When I say Pop Star movies, I’m referring to movies that star one of today’s Pop Star Chart-Toppers usually playing someone who wants to be a Pop Star Chart-Topper or already are Chart-Toppers (“Glitter,” “Can’t Stop the Music” and “Hard To Hold” come to mind). A Pop Star Movie can also star a Chart-Topper who is playing a character with no affiliation with the Pop Star world, but has to somehow sing in the movie anyway (Britney Spears in “Crossroads”). This is not an easy job for me.

Consider “Undiscovered.” Consider the fact that I have no idea how Ashlee Simpson skyrocketed to fame so quickly, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m just completely out of tune with the whole Jessica/Ashlee Simpson phenomenon. A few weeks ago, one of the Top Stories on my Yahoo home page pondered, “Will Jessica Simpson make a good Daisy Duke?” This week, in the exact same space, the question popped up, “Can Ashlee Simpson act?” To which I replied out loud, “Is it possible for these questions to be any more vapid!?! Can Collin Souter possibly care less?”

No, but I’ll keep writing anyway. Ashlee does not play the central character in this movie, but “Undiscovered” will probably be considered the Ashlee Simpson Movie anyway, at least for the next four days while the movie is still in release. The story centers around an adorable blonde New York model named Brier Tucket (Pell James of “Broken Flowers”). She moves to California in hopes of landing an acting career, much to the amusement of her agent, Carrie (Carrie Fisher). While there, she meets Clea (the immortal Simpson sister), who runs with a gaggle of actors who actually perform for the stage (I know many Chicago theater actors here who would have a good chuckle at that idea).

So, anyway, cue the love story. Brier reunites with studly emo singer Luke Falcon (Steven Strait), who sings in a bar. Brier and Luke had a brief encounter in New York that lasted about 30 seconds. Naturally, they find each other again. Brier likes Luke’s music so much, she tries to ignite some online hype about it. The plan works and next thing we know, Luke gets courted by a major label run by (get this) Garrett Schweck(!), played by Fisher Stevens, who modeled his performance after every sleazy drug pusher in your average Golan/Globas/Bruckheimer film. Garrett pressures Luke to sign a major recording contract, because, as we all know, nothing would get taken more seriously in the music biz than an emo singer/songwriter named Luke Falcon.

The love story between Luke and Brier has a rocky climb, especially when Luke reaches the heights of fame that lasts almost as long as “The Boondock Saints.” He wants to commit to Brier and put aside all the clichés about rock stars and models cohabitating successfully, because, as Simpson’s characters proclaims, “He wants to make it. On his terms.” Brier just got hurt by a previous rock star boyfriend, so naturally she’s a little gun shy about the whole thing.

But can Ashlee Simpson act? That’s all you really want to know, right? More importantly, does she sing and can this be as much an Ashlee vehicle as it is a tried and true movie about young up-and-comers struggling to make a name for themselves in the big city? Yes, it’s a vehicle in disguise. Yes, she sings and not badly. No, the part does not require her to emote. She’s there to fill in the role of the spunky best pal who knows everything about everyone. I just wish she could turn down the high-octane adorableness a few notches. She comes off so aggressively cute, she makes Katie Holmes sound like Kathleen Turner.

In terms of bad Pop Star Movies, “Undiscovered” doesn’t quite reach the lower depths of the Mariah Carrey movie or the Fat Boys movie. For one thing, the music isn’t quite awful enough. Plus, Pell James has a nice presence that could serve her well in the future. But like this year’s “Be Cool,” “Undiscovered” has a very naïve view of the recording industry and its plot moves along accordingly.

Its apparent existence as a vehicle for Sister Simpson is made more obvious when at the end of the film, we’re treated to a series of flashbacks that led to this singular, life-altering moment between the two leads, while Simpson stands on stage and sings a love ballad. Apparently, even the director thinks this movie is so forgettable that we need to be reminded of everything we’ve seen thus far. I appreciate the gesture, but it doesn’t make my job as a Pop Star Film Critic any easier.

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