Movie review: “The Bling Ring” fails to bedazzle

By
From the June 20, 2013 edition

Even for a movie about superficial and vapid teens, Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” aspires to some pretty shallow heights.

It’s a shiny, loud movie that never gets any more interesting than it’s mostly dull characters, despite a bumping soundtrack. The worst crime? It’s bo-ring.

Opening credits inform us this movie was based on a Vanity Fair article, which was based on actual events. Like, actually.

Those actual events involve a group of fame-obsessed SoCal teenagers who decide rob the homes of the celebrities they obsess over. It turns out this is easier than you think, because such celebrities a) broadcast their whereabouts on the Interwebs and b) apparently tend to leave their doors unlocked.

Events play out like an E! True Hollywood Story, complete with teenage coke binge montage. Surely there’s some sort of societal satire at work here — are the kids messed up or is the culture? — but the movie barely manages to move the “meh” meter. It’s more self-involved than the Paris Hiltons it sends up, featuring lots of selfies and Gavin Rossdale of Bush fame.

The teens are played by relative unknowns with one noteworthy exception. In one of her first post-Hermione Granger roles, Emma Watson channels a little Alicia Silverstone in “Clueless” and a little Nicole Kidman in “To Die For” for a winning and funny performance that deserved a better movie.

Coppola’s once-shining directorial star continues to lose luster. Her early films (“The Virgin Suicides,” “Lost in Translation”) are becoming a distant memory.

If you’re looking for a candy-colored depiction of privileged young kids behaving badly, I’ll take Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers,” thank you very much. This movie could have used James Franco in a grill singing Britney Spears’ songs — but then most movies could, right?