Thursday, February 21, 2013

Awfully Direct: Season One, Episode 3: "So Undercover"

I'd like to get Miley Cyrus under covers.
And there goes my entire female audience...

Why So Undercover?

      Released this past month, So Undercover is a new direct-to-DVD film starring Miley Cyrus as a private investigator who goes undercover at a college sorority for the FBI, which, as you might imagine, is about as fun as it sounds. This film is directed by Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas) and is written by Allan Loeb (The Dilemma) and Steven Pearl. I really don't think I need to explain why I chose this movie to review. After all, the title is So Undercover. I think that about sums it up.

The Review

      As the movie begins, we get the credits, which the movie pretends are being typed on screen by a typewriter. That's good, since it's always a sign of a quality mystery movie. Outside a hotel (?), we see a young woman talking into her ear. Subtle. Across the street, a man in a van talks back to her. The girl starts to take photos of a senator, but she wants to take a closer look so she begins to follow him. In the elevator with the senator, the movie tries it's hand at making some awkward humor, but it fails miserably. The girl then tries to get inside one of the room, using "A Scottish accent mixed with a little Salma Hayek". Wow. Offending two different races in one bad joke. And only three minutes in. Great work, movie.
      We learn the girl is named Molly (Miley Cyrus, LOL) and the man in the van is her father Sam (Mike O'Malley, My Name is Earl). Together, they're a private eye team. And as most private eyes do, Molly ends up trying to get to the senator by climbing from one hotel balcony to another, high above the street. Cause that's not suspicious at all. Naturally, she almost falls, but, proving herself to be a "tough girl", she pulls herself up and into the room. She gets some photos of some clothes on the floor (PG-13!) and gets caught by the senator's lover. She runs away from the senator and up to the roof, wondering how she can get away. Gee, I don't know. Maybe you could have gone downstairs, you moron!
      The senator catches Molly, but not before telling her how she's "The lowest of the low". Seeing as how he's a senator who just got caught having a threesome with two people who weren't his wife, he's the obvious moral center of this situation. Molly agrees to give up the camera, but instead, she pretends to throw the camera off the roof, causing the Senator to panic and drop his weapon. Which makes no sense seeing as how the camera wouldn't have survived the fall and the pictures would have been gone forever, but whatever. Molly is able to escape, as some hilariously over-stylized opening credits begin to play. Seriously, it looks like someone vomited neon paint everywhere.
      Later on, Molly is in a diner taking more photos of cheating husbands when a man approaches her in at the bar. He blows her cover and reveals himself to be Agent Armon (Jeremy Piven, The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard.) of the FBI. At this point, both Cyrus and Piven are clearly so utterly bored with this movie already that neither of them appear to care beyond how many zeroes they can get at the end of their paychecks. Seriously, I haven't seen Cyrus so bored since that episode of Hannah Montana where she had to go to a Build-a-Bear-style store. What, I watched Disney Channel growing up. Stop judging!

How many times do I have to tell you?
You can't catch bullets with your teeth!
      Armon wants Molly to go undercover as a college sorority girl in order to protect a mobster's daughter. Because apparently the FBI doesn't have any hot, young female agent who can go for her, going against every FBI movie/TV show ever created. She rejects him, but we all know how that will turn out. Molly heads home, where she discovers that her father has been gambling. When he lies about where he was, she proves he was gambling using his appearance and she looks as convincing deducing clues as Tyler Perry did in Alex Cross. It turns out he lost about 17 thousand dollars, forcing Molly to take Armon's offer. 
      In an abandoned warehouse, Armon takes Molly to get a makeover for her job. In an abandoned warehouse. Riiiight. Two incredibly obnoxious trying to be "hip" stylists later and Molly is all ready for her job. This movie is seriously about as funny as an episode of Glee. Post season-one of course. Armon gives Molly a brand new Volkswagen Eos that the average teenager girl would just die for. Clearly this movie's product placement is about as subtle as Molly's investigative skills. 
      Molly arrives at the sorority just in time to see one of the girl's boyfriends yelling at her. She wants to knock the guy's teeth out, however, Armon makes it clear that punching people is not want normal girls do. Yay, sexism! Seriously, there are so many things this film says that isn't right for girls to do, that I might as well throw up a counter. One: Fight. Two: Drive motorcycles. Three: Be unfashionable. Four: Swear. Starting off with a bang, movie! The other girl of course gets mad at Molly for trying to help, because this is college and all college girls are evil.
      Molly meets the sorority president Sasha (Eloise Mumford, The River), who gives her a tour. She also meets Alex (Lauren McKnight, My Psycho Sweet 16), the girl's she's there to protect and they become instant friends. As she's unpacking, Molly meets her roommate Becky (Kelly Osbourne, Life As We Know It) with a bad accent in tow. Out on the campus, she meets Nicholas (Joshua Bowman, Revenge), seeing as how the movie decided to throw the entire supporting cast at us in the span of 5 minutes. He asks her if she goes to school here, where she responses by panicking and making an awful joke. After almost blowing her cover on the first day, Molly and the rest of the girls get in their underwear and bond later that night. No, not like that, you pervert. Although...

Pictured: Every guy's college fantasy.
       The girls are all talking about want they want more then anything and when they ask Molly, she starts talking about guns. (Number Five: Weapons.) Seriously? I could make a better teenage girl than Molly. I would say something like how I would want to travel to Spain and meet a hunky guy like in The Cheetah Girls 2. What, I watched Disney Channel Original Movies too. Seriously, stop judging. But since she added on a car at the end, they're all fine with it. Because college girls all have memories like goldfish. That night, the sorority is having a party, or make that initiation, seeing as how they all start chanting together. Since when did sorority initiations and satanic cult initiations become the same thing?
      Molly thinks she sees a gun pointing at Alex, so she tackles her to the ground and accidentally sets the sorority on fire. Okay, look, I know you have to protect her and all, but there are better ways to do it other that tackling her! What if it's not a gunman? It turns out it's just some losers with a camera. See, now the girls will never accept Molly. Oh, they don't. Okay, I'm honestly surprised the movie didn't come up with some contrived way for them to forgive her. I give it 5 minutes until it fixes that. 
      In one of her classes, Molly surprises every one, including her professor, by knowing more than him on a court case. When asked how she know so much, she replies "I don't know". I mean, come on! We're supposed to believe that Molly is a great P.I., even though she that bad a liar. I wouldn't believe she could go undercover as a police officer, let alone a college student. More than that, why did the FBI pick her for this case? As far as the movie explain, Molly's biggest cases have been taking photos of cheating husbands. Not exactly spy material.
      Molly then deduces that one of the sorority girls is having an affair with a professor, using skills that she in no way should show she has (Number six: Brains.), right in front of Alex! But, of course, she passes it off as nothing and everyone agrees. Upon discovering that Alex, the girl she has been hired to protect, leaves to unknown places, so Molly, naturally, decides to snoop around Alex's room, even though she has no reason to do this. What, is she going to mob hit herself? 

Who couldn't trust this face?
Oh, right. Most people.
      Molly gets a text to meet with Armon in a streetcar depot. She learns that that bad guys have killed the makeup artist from earlier, with Armon telling her she needs to take the case more seriously. Later that night, one of the sorority girls wakes up Molly for more initiation stuff, startling Molly so much that she draws a gun on her. Of course, all she has to do is tell them that it's not real and all's forgiven. I'm starting to notice a pattern developing. 
      Later on, Molly notices Alex and a professor getting a little too cozy. But before she can act, she gets called away by Armon to have a secret meeting in a church. Because that hasn't been overused at all. Armon is able to deduce that Molly is into Nicholas, cementing Nicholas as the hitman. Armon tells Molly to date Nicholas  in order to find out if he's the bad guy. See, it turns out that Molly is actually starting to enjoy college. Aw, how hilarious. 
      Molly and Nicholas goes to a jazz bar (Ahhh, too soon!) and the two begin to bond. Awwww. This movie sucks. They go for a nice, sweet walk and kiss outside the sorority. Again, I'm sure this won't be a problem at all. While in the sorority, Molly hears the girls screaming and pulls her gun out. It turns out that the dolls the sorority sells in a competition have come in and they are just adorable. Why they screamed like they was being brutally murdered is beyond me. Oh, and it's nice to see that the movie didn't even bother to show Alex and the sorority forgiving Molly for almost burning the place down. I guess near arson is completely harmless.
      The next day, Molly and the sorority gets together to sell some of the dolls, seeing as how the movie is already struggling to reach an hour and a half. Molly learns one of the girls is a chemistry major who makes her own mace. I'm sure that won't come into play at all later on, oh no. She gives Molly a can of mace, which may or may not be lethal. How wacky! The sorority has Molly dress up like a crawfish in order to sell the dolls at an entrance to a ball pit, because that's what all college students love! Ball pits! Mostly, it's just an excuse for Cyrus to say the line "Buy a doll, play with balls" over and over again. The movie this this line is so funny that they even named the scene after it!
      Nicholas informs Molly that the rival sorority that is also selling dolls is having a sexy car wash in order to get people to buy their dolls. And I hate to sound sexist, but obviously they would sell the most dolls. I mean seriously! Which are college guys gonna go to, the hot girl car wash or the place where they are told they can "play with balls"? Also, nice to be introduced to the rival sorority 50 minutes in! Molly promises that they will win the competition.
      Molly uses her detective "skills" to take photos of one of the rival sorority girls with a professor and blackmails him for the win. Because cheating is so much better that being whores. Wait, is it? The professor buys all the dolls and the girls end up winning, much to the anger of Sasha. Oh, and that's the last we hear of the other sorority. Bye useless contrivances! Sasha gives Molly a bracelet, which is like a huge deal, and Molly discovers that she's actually becoming friends with the girls. That was, until she discover that Sasha gave her a stolen bracelet  causing trouble with the girls. Sasha, of course, denies the whole thing. All of the girls stolen things are found in Molly's room, despite Molly not actually, you know, being at the sorority when most of it was stolen. Nevertheless, the girls are angry.

This looks like a scene out of a horror movie.
Or a musical. Either, or really.
      After talking with her father, because the movie needed a way to bring him back in after fifty minutes, Molly learns that, apparently, Sasha doesn't exist. Molly continues to be an awful liar and detective, as I'm sure that any other detective could prove that Sasha is really the thief. I mean, Molly even has security camera hidden in the house. Molly searches Sasha room for clues into who she really is. Molly finds Sasha's old yearbook and learns that her real name is Suzy. She looks kinda nerdy in the yearbook photo, so I assume this is all one long pointless red herring.
      Molly confronts Sasha in her room, because apparently undercover is not in Molly's vocabulary. It turns out all Sasha wanted was to have a fresh start at college, but Molly still forces her to tell them that she's the real thief. Oh, no wait. Molly takes the blame by continuing to lie to everyone, by trying to convince everyone the kleptomania is just as serious a disease as epilepsy. That'll go over well. Oh no wait. It turns out that Molly was saying this about Sasha, who does admit to stealing everything, because I'm sure having someone else tell everyone your problems instead of coming clean yourself is always the right thing to do! And of course, everyone forgives her.
      Also, it seems as though Molly has been spending less and less time with Alex as the film goes on. It's not like you're being paid to protect her or anything. Alex runs out of the house, afraid of something, and Molly tries to get her to say what exactly it is she's afraid of. She can't get it out of her, so Molly follows Alex in her car. They end up in house out in the woods, where she's meeting with one of her professors. The next day, Molly follows the professor around, because following people is all she's good at.
      Armon visits Molly while she's following the professor and tells her that she got the stylist's killer. The killer told him that, of course, Nicholas is actually Patrick, the hitman out to kill Alex. Molly, naturally, doesn't believe Nicholas lied to her, even though everyone else can, seeing as how awful a detective she is. Later that night, Nicholas and Molly go to a sorority party, but Nicholas sneaks into the house instead. Alex ends up leaving the party and Molly finds Nicholas and tries to get him to admit that he was lying. Another mysterious car begins to follow Alex and Molly pretends to be drunk in order to interrogate Nicholas. And not, you know, go after the person she's protecting.
      He doesn't know what she's talking about, so she just handcuffs him to a radiator and knocks him out. Hooray pointlessness! Molly goes after Alex, even though it's been so long that she realistically can't figure out where she went, so she just guesses that she's back in the house in the woods, and unsurprisingly, she's right. Great. Molly bribes the guard alligator (Don't ask) and gets into the house. Molly learns that the professor is from the FBI and discovers that he has files. On her. DUH DUH DAHHHH!

Yes, she's holding thongs.
No, I will not explain.
      Alex gets into a fight with a masked man, who beats her and takes her gun, but she realizes that it was Armon, who was the bad guy all along and lied to her about Nicholas. Okay, to be fair, this is actually a pretty good twist. I honestly didn't see it coming, though, seeing as how it wasn't because it was genuinely creative and more because I didn't think this movie was that smart, I'm not really sure of how much of a plus that is for this movie. Molly finds the professor shot in the lake and she figures it all out.
      Armon worked for the bad guy who was trying to get Alex so they could get some secret ledgers that would be bad for the bad guys. They lied to Molly, making her think she was working for the FBI and trying to have her find Alex's actual FBI protector. The professor tells Molly that Armon got Alex and the professor dies. Armon meets Molly, who confronts him on his plan. See, he wanted Molly to take the fall for Alex's death. Even though there was plently of evidence that could prove her innocent, but hey, the movie's almost over.
      Molly pretends that she has the ledgers in order to get Alex back, because she just now decides to protect her. The FBI starts to question the rest of the sorority as to where Alex and Molly are, but the sorority won't snitch. Molly returns and the FBI blows Molly's cover. Molly tells the FBI Armon's plan and the FBI tells her to back off, finally having someone who notices how incompetent Molly is at her "job", but of course, Molly refuses to back off. She tries to convince them that they need to prepare for Armon's next move while she finds the ledgers. But, since she's a girl, they don't listen to her.
      Molly eventually convinces the FBI to let her help and she even manages to get the entire sorority on board. Because that's safe! The plan to give Armon fake ledgers in exchange for Alex. Armon meets with Molly, with the FBI watching. Armon's on to them though, knowing the ledgers are fake and activating a device which cause the earpieces of the FBI to make them spontaneously dance. Just take my word for it. Armon points a gun at Molly, even though there are still dozen of FBI agents around him. Oh, the FBI loses sight of them while they are completely out in the open. Remind me to never play Where's Waldo with the FBI.

You have one guess as to what this film's favorite
color is. Go ahead, guess.
      One of the sorority girls finds the ledgers and tells Molly and Armon about them. Armon forces Molly into a car, with Alex tied up inside. They head to the sorority, where the ledgers are. Obvious trap incoming! Outside the sorority, Molly's dad is watching everything. It turns out this was all part of Molly's plan. Even though she could have never know about Armon's earpiece device, but whatever. Armon informs Molly that the car with Alex inside is rigged to explode and takes her inside the house. One of the girls brushes past Armon and steals his keys, saving Alex.
      Nicholas shows up and confronts Molly, potentially ruining her plan. He reveals that he likes Molly, much to her father chagrin. Molly tries to use the girl's mace on Armon, but it has no effect. Armon fights Molly and wins, again and Nicholas tries to help, losing, but giving Molly enough time to tackle Armon out a window. Molly takes Armon's gun and Armon threatens to blow up the car. Molly gives him back his gun, even though the movie showed the other sorority girls stealing Armon's keys, which I guess was just for fun. Armon detonates the car anyway, even though it just makes him even more guilty. Molly's father draws a gun on Armon and the mace turned out to be a drug, making Armon act high.
      Alex is revealed to be safe and the movie tells us that the girls stole Armon keys, even though we saw this earlier. Alex gives Molly the ledgers, which were in her necklace the whole time. How original. The FBI arrest Armon and Molly decides to stay in school. Even though she wasn't actually ever a student and has no way to pay for it. Molly gives the FBI the ledgers and gets her dad back on the police force in the process. And finally, Molly and Nicholas make up and Molly celebrates with her sisters. AWWWW!  I'm so happy... this movie's over.

One of these things is not like the others.
The Verdict

      So Undercover is about as fun as a Disney Channel Original movie. The movie just is not nearly as cute and funny as it thinks it is, nor is it as clever. The plot takes a back seat to some pointless sorority escapades and as a result, it never makes much sense, wasting a potentially interesting twist as well. Piven is awfully bored and makes for an awful villain, though it's not like the script gave him a lot to work with. Cyrus, though, is lost. I used to think she had some legitimate acting chops, but after this movie, I'm not so sure. It doesn't help that that her character is absolutely awful, making for one of the most unbelievable detectives I've ever seen. Seriously, she's more unbelievable than that episode of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody where they helped a woman give birth in an elevator. What? So Undercover gets 2 stars out of 6.

      This has been Awfully Direct and remember,
if it's not in theaters, then it's not safe!

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