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The Roommate

2011-04-14 20:36
What it’s about:

Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is starting her freshman year at a Los Angeles university and is paired up with a strange new roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester) who becomes increasingly – and dangerously – obsessed with becoming Sara’s best and only friend.

What we thought:

The Roommate comes pre-packaged as a guilty pleasure. It features a gorgeous, young cast (all seemingly cast on the basis that they had starred in a teen TV series from The CW network), the premise is certainly nothing new but languishes in the appeal of teenage bitches, lunacy and raging hormones. Its success depends almost exclusively on getting that sexy/thrilling balance just right – something Piranha 3D achieved so enormously well last year. Who cares about performance and scriptwriting when the high schlock factor is there for all to see?

Unfortunately, director Christian E. Christiansen seems to have had very little faith in his movie’s rather strong selling points (Hot babes! Partying! Sex! Catfights!) to actually do his job for him and allow The Roommate to be a bit of distracting fun. This is serious business. From the minute we first meet Rebecca, there is an almost blindingly annoying sense that she is well and thoroughly batshit crazy. She arrives as a fully formed psycho, the rush of madness already blazing behind her eyes. It’s a surprise that Sara doesn’t take one look at her and run screaming towards the nearest exit.

But Sara’s a nice, uncomplicated girl. She meets her love interest during her first night on campus (a bland musician fratboy played by former Twilight villain Cam Gigandet), makes an instant impression on her lecherous design professor (played with significant sleaze by Billy Zane) and just gets on blandly with her unremarkable life. Whatever Rebecca saw in her that was worth obsessing over remains a mystery throughout.

There’s a disturbing incident with a kitten that seeks to recall a similar bunny debacle from Fatal Attraction. A Thanksgiving trip to Rebecca’s family home is meant to shed some light on her mental state but only introduces more clueless characters and pointless information. And then there's a ludicrous communal shower scene that’s built up so carefully, you’re able to spot its intent well in advance.

And so it goes with The Roommate – one implausible, half-baked, derivative scenario after another. It doesn’t help that the most of the cast look horribly out of place. At 30, Minka Kelly, stunning as she is, is obviously too old to be a college freshman especially when placed opposite her younger co-stars. She and Gigandet (who is 28) would’ve been more convincing as teachers at the school. Supporting players like Frances Fisher, Nina Dobrev (Elena on The Vampire Diaries) and Alyson Michalka arrive on the scene with purpose before fading away into nothingness. Ironically it’s the little things that begin to needle when The Roommate stuffs up the big picture so convincingly.

The promise of titillation is stifled at almost every turn by a frankly dim-witted need to be PG-friendly and safe. The thrills are dull, the emotions false and the lip gloss outshines everything.

The Roommate is a movie that could’ve been bad - and enjoyably so - for the right reasons (the camp fun of Burlesque springs to mind) but just ends up not caring enough to even get its mediocrity right.

The Roommate's strong selling points (Hot babes! Partying! Sex! Catfights!) are also its most dull.
Read more on:    leighton meester  |  minka kelly  |  movies

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