Movie Review: 'The Lifeguard' (2013)

"The Lifeguard" is a monotonous coming-of-age story for adults. A murky morality tale that’s lead characters are next to impossible to sympathize with. Broken by the big city, Leigh (Kristen Bell) a 29-year-old AP writer returns to her hometown to find comfort from a horrible mother, and henpecked father.

Her home life is a disaster, given she is the victim of a self-absorbed mother (Amy Madigan) who seethes with intense jealousy towards her. Her friends are equally narcissistic, living lives that could only be lamented by entitled hipsters. These characters are second only to the elitist groaning heard in a Judd Apatow production.

As Leigh and her friends whine about their cushy jobs and financial security, they attempt self-pity salvation through a gang of wayward teen skateboarders. As you would imagine the trek down cougar lane isn’t far behind, as one of the 16-year-old boys catches Leigh’s eye, and she pounces.

Quick question, if the gender roles were reversed would this be as glossed over as it is in this movie? If you agree that it wouldn't be, why is it being treated so nonchalantly here?

As is characteristic in indie film, the story is small and simple, encompassing a “real” feel as it trudges forward. The problem is there is no heart to this story. The script remains rather predictable with the exception of some jarringly crass dialogue that is thrown in, as an awkward attempt to be edgy.

The characters depicted are not worth caring about. They meander through life, using and abusing, whoever they can. All the while, incredulously rejecting any accountability for their actions, or accepting their ramifications.

Kristen Bell's performance is commendable as she lets it all hang out in a vulnerable turn. Alex Shaffer is impressive as the struggling friend of Leigh’s conquest. Even if all of the performances were spectacular, it couldn’t have saved this film.

It is filled to the brim with questions that lead nowhere, resolutions that are non-existent and a journey that stalls from its cobbled together opening sequence. Where was the lifeguard when this movie needed resuscitation? Rating: 3/10

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