Sometimes it is hard for TV stars to break free from their famous characters when they decide to act in other things. This is especially true of the first movie they appear after being on a successful television show for many years. You might not recognize the name Chris Colfer, but if you saw his picture you would likely say, “Hey, that’s the guy from Glee.” Glee fans know that Chris Colfer plays Kurt on FOX’s popular TV show. Now, with Struck by Lightning, Chris branches outside the TV box having written and starred in his first feature film.
In Struck by Lightning, Chris Colfer plays high school outcast Carson Phillips. He gets struck by lightning in the opening scene and dies. Carson then narrates the film from the afterlife. We learn that his guidance counselor (Angela Kinsey) informs him that he needs to improve his college application if he wants to get into his dream school. So he comes up with a plan with best friend Mallorie (Rebel Wilson) to blackmail his classmates into contributing to their school literary magazine. Besides school problems, Carson also has an alcohol-and-prescription-drug-addicted mother, Sheryl (Allison Janney). She hasn’t recovered from Carson’s father, Neal (Dermot Mulroney), walking out on them. Things only get worse when Allison finds out Neal is having a baby with his new pharmacist assistant April (Christina Hendricks).
The main problem with Lightning is its story structure; from the beginning, Carson narrates the film and tells you he will be struck by lightning and die. There are no surprises here, and therefore there is no drama. It is hard to care about what happens in the rest of the film. But there are quite a few funny lines. Not laugh-out-loud stuff throughout, but it certainly is funny in some parts.
Most of the characters are just stereotypes of typical high school students. Carson thinks he is smarter than anyone else at the school. That probably is true, but Carson still comes across as unlikeable in some ways. The best part is whenever Chris Colfer and Allison Janney are on screen together as mother and son. They are just as good at exchanging witty verbal jabs at each other as they are in the more dramatic scenes.
Struck by Lightning is a dark comedy that has some genuine laughs throughout. The problem is the story plays out exactly like you think it would. The acting is great, especially from Chris Colfer and Allison Janney, but it is really hard to care to see what happens to any of the characters. But there is just enough of a twist on the typical high school teen angst movie to make Lightning worth a watch. Chris Colfer could make people forget he is Kurt from Glee, if he just works on a better plot the next time he writes a screenplay.
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is enhanced for 16X9 TVs. This Blu-ray transfer is great, but nothing that will make you say “wow”. No major problems at all, though.
The audio included is available in either English DTS Master 5.1 Surround sound or DTS Master 2.0 sound. The dialogue comes out crisp and clear. No major problems here either.
An Interview with Chris Colfer and Brian Dannelly – This is a brief 2 minute interview with the star and director of the film. Way too short.
Story Behind the Scene – This lasts 2 minutes and the director talks about filming the scene in the movie where the cops inform Janney about her son’s death. Too short to be worth anything.
Bloopers – This lasts 17 minutes and it’s the usual not really funny stuff.
Deleted Scenes – This lasts 17 minutes, and it features more dark comedy moments. There is some stuff worth checking out here.
If you are a Chris Colfer fan, you have probably seen this movie by now. Those thinking you have to be a fan of Glee to enjoy, you may just end up liking it. Chris Colfer and Allison Janney are great together, but the film lacks surprise. Recommended, but nothing you need to see.
Tribeca Film presents Struck by Lightning. Directed by Brian Dannelly. Written by Chris Colfer. Starring Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Hyland, Dermot Mulroney, Carter Jenkins, Brad William Henke, Angela Kinsey, and Polly Bergen. Running time: 84 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Chris Colfer, Glee