Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute… How Many Cute’s Is That?
The hardest part of my job as a film critic, other than watching really dreadful movies, is reviewing these “tween-queen” fairy tale movies. After all, I am a 33 year-old man with elitist and artsy tastes… the polar opposite demographic for the genre.
The lead actresses are 14, 15 and 17, so gawking is a major no-no. I could get away with gawking at Anne Hathaway in “The Princess Diaries” or Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls”. So there goes at least one reason to enjoy this film.
The story is simplistic and fluffy beyond belief… It’s nothing an old fart like me would be too interested in. Fairies, kittens, pretty bows & mermaids are not at the top of my interest list.
The production is rather plain. “Aquamarine” feels more like a TV movie than a fully-fledged theatre experience.
And I am the type of critic who does not believe in grading a film based solely in comparison to similar genre examples. I think critics should grade on an absolute scale. I try to adhere to that as rigidly as possible… although it is hard to maintain on occasion.
So, how can I possibly give this film a C+??? After all, that’s a grade I typically reserve for mild recommendations. Well, it all comes down to energy and mood. “Aquamarine” is so energetic and joyful that it is hard to begrudge it at least some praise.
Hailey (JoJo Levesque) and Claire (Roberts) are best friends coming to the end of their summer. They are desperate to enjoy their remaining time because Hailey’s mom is about to move away for a new job and the two pals are going to be separated.
One stormy night, the two of them stumble across a mermaid named Aquamarine (Paxton). She is on a mission to prove to her father that love truly exists, and she has one weekend to make a boy fall in love with her. Needless to say, she recruits the two girls to help her in that quest.
Cue hunky lifeguard. Hailey and Claire have had a huge crush on the local beach lifeguard and decide that he is the best target for Aqua. They hatch a plan to hook the two up.
You don’t have to see the film to know that a number of clichés pop up throughout the plot. There is an evil popular girl (Arielle Kebbel) who gets involved in a competition for the boy. Aqua is constantly having to run off each night to avoid “popping a tail” and giving away her secret. Life lessons are learned by all. And there will be a happily ever after ending that will make you gag on sentiment overload.
However, the cast are all really into it. Sara Paxton and Joanna Levesque are the brightest stars, delivering bouncy performances, beaming smiles and the occasional funny one-liners. They are both capable of entertaining an audience. Emma Roberts was a little flat (perverted pun not intended). She didn’t seem to want to be there sometimes.
But the one factor that redeemed this film from the D-range grade it so easily could have deserved was that it was good-natured, wholesome family fun that managed to keep a 33-year-old bitter and cynical man from looking at his watch more than once or twice. Trust me when I say that is a hard feat for any fluffy fairy tale.
“Aquamarine” ain’t Shakespeare. Conversely, there isn’t too much to really dislike here either. When everyone in a room is smiling, it is rather difficult to avoid smiling too. This film is one gigantic beaming smile. It was enough for me to bestow my tweener grade to this tweenager film.