I actually have a tremendous amount of patience for badmovies. Even movies that are deliberately bad can be entertaining to me, butmovies that either don’t know they’re bad or, even worse, pretend that they’regood, drive me nuts. And that’s what The Roommate is.
First of all, it’s a flagrant rip-off of the vastly superiorSingle White Female. I don’t even needto mention that. But the worst part is that it’s an unoriginal story centeredon two wholly generic Hollywood nobodies without a shred of personality betweenthem, to say nothing of the fact that they’re nearly indistinguishable fromeach other.
So here’s the story. Sara (Minka Kelly) is a college studentfrom Iowa enrolled at the cleverly named Los Angeles University. We meet her asshe moves into her dorm and proceeds through a series of clunky introductionsto her hugely uninteresting classmates. Getting used to life away from parents,she checks out the nightlife and finds herself getting involved with a guy whofeeds her some pickup lines that no self-respecting man in real life would everutter out loud, but I guess it works in this movie. This may be a sign that youhave to be drunk to enjoy it.
Heading home, she meets Rebecca (Leighton Meester), the new roommate. We learnlittle about her other than that she lives 20 minutes away and loves art asmuch as Sara and is interested in stealing her identity. She seems nice enoughat first but gradually gets creepier and creepier, dyeing her hair to matchRebecca’s and copying her mannerisms and whatnot until Sara eventually catcheson and gets a little freaked out and so decides maybe she should center alittle more of her time on her other friends and not quite so much on Rebecca,at which point Rebecca understandably embarks on the warpath.
And what follows is a talentless update on the overusedso-and-so from hell subgenre. Forget about the total lack of any kind ofrealism captured in any element of the story. Sara is meant to be a normalcollege student who is terrorized by some nutty chick who becomes wildlyobsessed with her, but it’s so paper-thin and superficial that the whole thingwill go in one ear and right out the other. This may be the single mostforgettable movie this year so far. 2011 hasn’t been around that long, I know,but The Roommate may hold that title forquite a while. I shudder to think what might displace it.
I don’t generally get personally offended by movies, and I’mnot by this one, despite it’s prodigious idiocy, but it does strike me asalmost criminally idiotic in the way that Rebecca’s backstory is treated. It’sone thing to have an evil character without much of a background or a reasonfor their evil behavior. This was pulled off in spectacular fashion in TheDark Knight, for example.
But Rebecca’s a psychotic roommate who sets out to destroySara’s life and then take over her identity and she doesn’t have a shred ofbackground to explain what’s going on. In this case it’s more necessary thanwith The Joker, since he’s a comicbook villain. But why is Rebecca so nuts? Was she molested as a kid? Did her parentsbeat her? It can’t be because her parents don’t get along, which we do learn inthe movie. My parents have been divorced for 30 years and you don’t see metrying to steal anyone’s identity or torturing animals.
But then they throw in the biggest cop-out of all, the plunkin some random thing about mental illness, perpetuating Hollywood’s moronicmyth that mental illness and dangerous psychotic behavior are essentially thesame thing. Yawn. Had the movie been told from Rebecca’s point of view insteadof Sara’s, it would have approached an already wildly familiar storyline withat least a fresh perspective, but director Christian Christiansen opted insteadto tell the same story from the same perspective and chalk it all up to mentalillness and let the limp climax play itself out and then collect his paycheckand move on.
I can relate to that though, I’m ready to move on, too. Kindof wish I had held on to my money this time, though.
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