Allison Janney is an American treasure, but her new movie is so poorly written I can only imagine that she agreed to make it to mark starring in an action movie off her celebrity BINGO card. That is the only plausible reason why she made Lou. Spoiler alert: I reveal plot points in my review.
In the Netflix film, Janney portrays Lou, an angry, arthritic woman who can hardly give the time of day to her tenant, Hannah (Jurnee Smollett), the closest neighbor to her remote cabin. When Hannah’s violent ex-husband, Philip (Logan Marshall-Green), kidnaps their daughter, Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman), during a violent rainstorm, Lou reluctantly agrees to help her track Philip down. Surprise! Lou is a retired CIA agent, and Philip is her war criminal of a son. She hid this fact from her daughter-in-law and only grandchild, arranged to have Philip taken out by the CIA for his crimes, and lured Hannah to live on her property, theoretically under her protection.
I admit that Lou sounds exciting, but each scene is so contrived and poorly written that, paired with the talents of Janney and Smollett, the production borders on parody. The art direction uses dark lighting and grey tones to give the movie the look of an arty drama, but it is really a suspenseful action movie. I am unsure why the production didn’t lean into that genre and have a little fun. With Janney bringing her talent and star power, why not polish the screenplay more and bring the production up to her level? Instead, the movie drags through unbelievable twists and turns, wasting the stellar efforts of the lead actresses.
Is it worth watching Lou to see Janney as the gruff hero? Yes. But do not expect a great movie. Lou is a terrible movie with great actors.
Lou was written by Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley and directed by Anna Foerster. It runs 1 hour 47 minutes and is rated R for violence and language.
Also on Netflix, the teen comedy Do Revenge capitalizes on Millennial nostalgia for the movies of our youth and Gen Z reliving our fashion mistakes. Although the movie pays homage to great teen films such as Cruel Intentions, Clueless, Heathers, and Jawbreaker, it never has as much fun as any of them.
In Do Revenge, Drea (Camila Mendes) teams up with the awkward new girl in school, Eleanor (Maya Hawke), for them to get revenge on each other’s enemies. Drea wants to take down her popular ex-boyfriend, Max (Austin Abrams), after he ruined her social life. Eleanor wants to get back at a girl who started a rumor about her at camp years ago. This version of Strangers on a Train features more backstabbing than you might expect.
Do Revenge riffs on so many movies that I love and includes a plot twist that I did not see coming. I think, however, that part of why I did not predict the twist is that I mentally checked out during the first half of the story. The characters are uninteresting and look and act way too old for a high school drama. The sets and costumes are overly posh. Even Clueless had the rich kids eating Twizzlers like the rest of us. What happened to teen movies in which thirty-year-old actors look and act like teenagers?
The film also lacks a sense of humor, taking its twisted story and veiled critiques of high school culture way too seriously. The petty drama is not compelling, really, but the lack of a single solid laugh reveals how joyless Do Revenge is, unsure of what genre it wants to be.
As much as I did not like this movie, I can appreciate the good performances given by the female leads. Camila Mendes broods and mopes convincingly throughout, and when she erupts, you feel it. As Eleanor, Maya Hawke brings an angsty, sullen, awkward energy that is the closest the movie comes to resembling actual adolescents.
Maybe I am out of touch, and high school is really like this now, but if that is the case, Do Revenge is a horror movie.
Do Revenge was written by Celeste Ballard and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who also directed. It runs 1 hour 58 minutes and is rated TV-MA.
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