"Dirty Girl 2: On the Road Again". Yeah, maybe they came out with the sequel a bit too soon, and I really do mean "too" soon, by, maybe about five years or something, because as hot as early twentysomewthing Juno Temple was as Danielle, it was discomforting enough knowing that she was playing a sexualized teenagr, and now, for the recast, they actually got a teengar. Okay, seriously though, this film isn't at all a sequel to "Dirty Girl", for although it is also about a teenaged girl of redneck roots meeting colorful and also troubled people while on a life-changing adventure, there are still plenty of differences, one of which being that, this time, the teen girl in Daisy Dukes and a belly shirt actually is less than sixteen. Now, quite honestly, I'm certain that ChloŽ Moretz is going to grow into a very attractive woman, and plus, it's not like she's coming even mildly close to going the way of Dakota Fanning in "Hound Dog", though with all of the short clothing and the occasional piece of either sexual or romantic tension with grown men, maybe they should have shelved this film for, as I said, about five years or so, or actually gotten an early twentysomething to play the Luli McMullen character, because I think any kind of miscast would be pretty much redeemed by this film's getting Eddie Redmayne to play a drifter of the South. Looking at his appearances, the Brit was born to play, well, Matt Damon and Angie Jolie's son, and now that he's gotten that out of the way, he can fulfill his destiny of putting that big mouth and rather rough-looking skin to some good use and between a cowboy hat and blazer. Wow, just looking at ChloŽ Moretz and Eddie Redmayne, as well as Blake Lively, Alec Baldwin, Juliette Lewis and Rory Culkin, this is quite the cast for a film that nearly no one is seeing and is getting some major heat from the two or three people who actually did see it. Really, I've got to say that I'm actually pretty surprised at just how bad the reviews on this film actually are, though more surprising things have definately happened, for although I find the negative reviews to still be somewhat unjust, seeing as how I'm one of, well, just who actually likes this film, the wardrobe lineup for Moretz isn't the only thing uneasing thing about this film.
The film has been criticised by some for boasting an ineffective and rather unfitting atmosphere of moderate surrealism, and really, outside of one brief throwaway scene in which ChloŽ Moretz's Luli McMullen character, for some reason, trips way out after one quick huff of nail polish, I have absolutely no idea what in the world these people are talking about, unless of course the reason why these people think that the film is surrealistic is because they've watched way too much Terrence Malick and automatically associate surrealism with dryness, as this film, with all of its promises of intensity, just ends up drying up within mere moments into its beginning, and rarely rehydrates from then on. That being said, the film ever so rarely, if ever descends as low as dull, though pick-up is certainly not much more prevalent, for although the film has its moments, on the whole, there's not a whole lot of spark in air, leaving the film to have plenty of moments where it loses you quite quickly amidst a consistent limpness, made worse by story structure that is almost as do-little. Ironic how this film is about drifers, because it itself is one drifter of a film, floating along its episodic storyline in a fashion that feels rather under-inspired, yet is never structurally uneven, as the story structure dynamicity and, to a certain degree, storytelling dynamicity are so limited that it's hard to feel all that much progression in the film, for although there is certainly some default degree of progression to be felt, there's not enough of it to keep the film from limping along, even on paper, with a major culprit behind this limpness being the film's often slapdashing through, if at all featuring climax in its segments and flesh-out in its segment transitions, which not only creates some plotholes, but leaves each segment to run together and render the film both repetitious and with little pick-up. Of course, just because a film's story structure goes rather lacking in dynamicity, that doesn't necessarily mean that it can't have tonal dynamicity, though this film stands as a bit of back-up to the theory that tonal dynamicity in a hardly structurally dynamic film is still actually pretty lacking. The film's tone rarely takes turns, yet when it does, it gives the film some livliness, though not a whole lot, not just because the atmospheric dryness tends to stay, but because the new tones rarely last, as the film hits its points where it could turn fairly intense, only to, partially with the help of the aforementioned plotholes, somewhat awkwardly make a perhaps too sudden return to less relatively lively tones and further dilute the film's consequential feel. Now, again, as much as it limps along and makes many a messy story move, the film is rarely all that dull and ultimately comes out hardly warranting weak reviews, let alone the panning its been getting, yet it just so rarely breaks out of somewhat bland, drifting along without making an impression, or at least not terribly deep impressions, until, by the end, with all of its high points, it just comes out as not much more than simply average. Still, as I said, the film has its high points, and quite a few to keep you going, for although the film is too average to be anything less or more than just average, it has a decent hit for every unfortunate miss.
Now, director Derick Martini hardly puts his all into this film, and were he to give it a bit more weight and quite a bit more intrigue, it probably would have squeaked through as genuinely good, yet as things stand, there's a certain charm within this film's workmanlike attitude, for although this film makes promises that it doesn't quite have the guts to deliver on, it lacks pretense and boasts a consistent, surprisingly rather striking charm about it, and that's just about the only reason why this film's dull spots are so scarce, if not nonexistent. This film's soundtrack certainly helps with that, for although tunes aren't much less scarce than dull spots, the film takes on a certain livliness and particular momentary entertainment value when it does kick on some classic tunes. Outside of the rarely used soundtrack and consistent charm, what keeps this film going is simply its subject matter, for although the film's concepts behind a primary plot about a young girl coming of age during her experiences with colorful, mature and potentially dangerous people go betrayed by their execution in both the scripting and directorial departments, they remain rather fascinating and create a certain default hint of intrigue that, when complimented by the relatively livlier occasions of storytelling, create the occasional moment that may not be too effective, yet remains reasonably effective enough to give this film a moment of weight and supplementation to the consistent moderate intrigue. The story structure's and storytelling's primarily relying upon the workmanlike standards of its aspects certainly adds to it the film's blandness, yet give it the charm and moderate intrigue needed to sustain your attention more often than, while the performers come in and further sustains your attention, for although there's very little for our performers to do, this is still a strong cast of talents who do a fine and reasonably engaging job of what they are asked to do, whether it be a quickly dismissed Juliette Lewis as the concerned mother and loveless wife or the somewhat underused Blake Lively as the initially, well, "lively" spirit plagued by the demons and bad intentions that crush her by the end and haunt her throughout. Of course, it's the leads who do the most to keep this film afloat, with Eddie Redmayne nailing not only the southern accent that he was born to play, what with his mug, but also both smooth charm and light yet still uneasingly pronounced disturbance in a fashion that keeps you reasonably compelled by the Eddie Kreezer character, yet also uncertain of when the character will hit dark depths and of just how hard he will hit, and when Kreezer does hit those dark depth, Redmayne delivers on enthralling emotional range and layers. As for leading lady ChloŽ Grace Moretz, with all of my going on and on about how it's rather discomforting seeing her physicality and still-developing maturity flaunted, even if it's not being flaunted all that much, it is pretty hard to deny that she is, in fact, quite attractive for her age, as she remains mature enough for the often discomforting situations that fall upon her to not so much come off as gratuitous, but actually rather realist, and it helps that Moretz sells these situation with a charismatic and confident presence that may be asked to play into such more advanced strokes of acting as emoting on only a few occasions (Occasions that Moretz do deliver on though, as expected, especially during the final couple of scenes that she, all but alone, makes genuinely powerful), yet remains consistent and assured enough for your investment in Moretz as a leading force to go earned quite firmly, thus exposing further potential within the young talent. The film stands to be better, and there's no getting around that, yet the film still ultimately stands as worth, well, at least my time, as it has enough workmanlike charm and restrained yet still impressive performances to make this film both generally engaging and ultimately rather enjoyable.
In conclusion, the film is a dry one that limps along in a bland fashion, made worse by storytelling and story structure of little dynamicity, occasional tonal unevenness and altogether limited bite, thus making for a film that's neither less or more than simply average, yet certainly more enjoyable that people say, boasting a consistent workmanlike charm and fair degree of default intrigue - spawned from the interesting subject matter - to battle back dullness, while a strong cast of either underused or underwritten, yet still rather impressive talents - the most impressive of which being leads Eddie Redmayne and ChloŽ Grace Moretz - earns further investment and helps in making "Hick" a generally enjoyable portrait on a budding young girl tossed into a mature and dangerous coming-of-age experience.
2.5/5 - Fair