Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)

“I lied because I wanted to make myself seem more interesting.”

Kyle’s rating: Lindsay Lohan’s Lola: Drama Incarnate!

Kyle’s review: To those who have never been or had any kind of relationship with a “Drama Queen,” Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen will be unbelievable, tedious, and devoid of substance. It focuses on the trials and tribulations of Mary Elizabeth Cep (as played by Lindsay Lohan, and won’t you please call her Lola?) as she leaves her personal center of the world (New York City) for a run-of-the-mill New Jersey suburb. The deceleration of Lola’s life from 24-hour sensory bombardment to suburban tedium has her considering joining a suicide club at first, but then she makes quick friends in beautifully plain jane Ella (Alison Pill) and plain beautiful (I guess) Sam (Eli Marienthal) and gets a chance to show her inner dramatic persona in the school play.

Stuff happens, including musical interludes, South Park-esque flashbacks made from glittery construction paper and floating photorealistic figures, and improbable costume changes for Lohan’s Lola. Everything revolves largely around Lola’s propensity to exaggerate her past in a theatrical way and Lola and Ella’s shared reverence for the band Sidarthur and their shared turmoil when the band announces that it is breaking. There is a teenage nemesis for Lola and some parental oppression for Ella, but working together there is little they can’t accomplish. Certainly it’s all nothing new, just teenage pomp and circumstance, poured through a Disney filter to remove the profanity and sex we all remember front and center from our high school years yet doesn’t seem to exist in the universe of fluffy teen films.

CoaTDQ is nowhere near the story quality of Mean Girls or the entertaining zaniness of Freaky Friday, so don’t expect too much on those fronts. Lohan holds everything together with enthusiastic charm and airbrushed delights, while Pill is anything but bitter as a neurotic but ultimately reliable and honest friend. It is all just fluff, though; a film version of a disposable bubble gum song-of-the-moment. If you dislike Lohan or the stupider teen fun films, stick with John Hughes or the better WB and UPN high school weekly dramas. Thanks for reading.

However… there are those of us who have known a Drama Queen, either in our teenage years or whenever. There are probably Drama Kings in the world, but I don’t really care and if I had to guess I’d say they get sucked into the Goth-coffeehouse-philosopher and/or homosexual scene. That’s tough. Not important, though.

Drama Queens are not necessarily into drama as in theater and the accepted arts. They are relentlessly creative, flamboyant, and charming. Once you get sucked into their orbit, they will infect your life with their needs and desires and usually help change you, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. They draw on their shoes and yours, cobble incredible fashion creations out of thrift store junk and discarded fabrics, and are inherently visually gifted. They have the best taste in music, they draw better than you, and have a unique style that they leave like a personal stamp on everything they do, from scrapbooking to local ‘zine work. Or they might be faking it all, intoxicating you so with their image of a beautiful fringe siren that by the time your head gets dashed on the rocks of reality you’re too far gone to notice it was all a sham. They are girls you’ll generally never forget, because they’re so rare and unlike anyone else you’ll ever meet that you can’t help but think of them at sunset time and wonder “Why? Why?”

Lola is an example of the purest form of Drama Queen: the innocent self-motivated vixen who is more interested in pursuing her passions than using her gifts to toy and punish the men of the world. On the big screen it’s all scrubbed and sanitized to be sure; nothing like the fashion model heroin addicts of Liquid Sky or the predatory Amy of The Doom Generation. Which is fine, because CoaTDQ plays to the memories of those who have been burned by the white-hot presence of a Drama Queen, and provides a new fantasy to fuel the fevered “What if?” sleepless nights as we sit with the phone and decide whether or not to make the phone call that will throw us back into the masochistic yet aesthetically pleasing cycle once more.

The heart of the film pumps relentlessly to infuse our individual remembrances with precious life-blood, and the flickering of images across the screen gather the threads of our lives into a nexus of indefinable emotions, where hope and anger and love and pain roil in their rawest form and the end credits crawl is a break from the gauntlet. You might get up to remove the film from your player and feel strange, for you have been through the fire once more and emerged changed, this time for the better. Lola and her ilk are living embodiments of that great lyric “If the real thing don’t do the trick, you better make up something quick” and having encountered their energies in this distilled form will prove to have been a necessary crucible to give you some fabled “closure” and prepare you to move on with your life.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen certainly isn’t for everyone. With a little more strength of dialogue and less reliance on a cookie cutter plot progression, it could have been a classic for the ages. As it is, it’s an amusing distraction for the bored and easily entertained, and a trip down possibility lane for a certain few. Above all else it’s a fun attempt to capture the essence of those self-confident girls disinterested in the superficial hubbub of the high school social strata, and though to some the end result is just an improbable caricature, for some of us the film hits so close to home that it hurts, but it arguably hurts oh so good.

Didja Notice?

  • Lola’s interior decorating skills are incredible impressive, and would seem to be the work of a millionaire. However, nowadays we ordinary humans can just hit the local kitsch store or hope we get featured on one of those home makeover shows and they we can have a room just like Lola’s. What a great time to be alive, yeah?
  • The gear shift is obviously in the “park” position as the family leaves New York for the suburbs.
  • If you check out Lola’s posters, you’ll see that she has pretty good taste in personal heroes.
  • Some would say Lola’s fashion tastes are not only distasteful, but impossible for a high school girl to put together. Obviously, those people have never been on a day-long thrift store run, especially in Southern California. Crazy people, please continue giving away your crazy clothes: we shoppers on the fashion fringe thank you!

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