Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
December 14, 2003
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) is the latest salvo in the Lindsay Lohan-Hilary Duff war over the lucrative teenage girl market. Each girl has been cranking out films in response to the other but as we all know from the rules of Thunderdome, only one can emerge victorious!
Mary (Lohan) is forced to move from the bustling metropolis of New York City to the boring suburbs of New Jersey by her single mom (Headly). The young girl sees herself as a larger than life figure, or as she puts it, “In my family I’m a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.” She aspires to be a famous actress and has created an elaborate fantasy world were she goes by the name of Lola and is romanced by her idol, rock ‘n’ roll musician Stu Wolff (Garcia).
At her first day of school, she befriends a plain girl named Ella (Pill) and crosses paths with Carla Santini (Fox), head of a popular clique of snobby girls. Mary and Ella bond over a mutual adoration of Stu and his band Sidarthur while rejecting Carla and her elitist group. Further animosity between Mary and Carla occurs when casting for the school play—a contemporary reworking of Pygmalion—begins. They both try out for the coveted role of Eliza Doolittle. And if that wasn’t enough, Sidarthur announces that they are breaking up and will perform one last time in New York City. Mary decides that she must do everything in power to get into the concert and the exclusive party afterwards.
It is obvious from the moment that she appears at school for the first time, that Mary is a rebel. She thinks, acts and dresses differently—right down to the Che Guevara shirt she wears. Lindsay Lohan does a good job in this tailor-made role as she conveys the right amount of confidence and ambition. She also has a real knack for comedic timing and does an excellent job of portraying the absolute heartbreak a girl her age goes through when their favourite band breaks up—it’s like the end of the world.
Alison Pill is the perfect foil to the wacky Lohan. She plays the rational side of the duo and tries to keep Mary honest. Yet, she learns that it is okay to cut loose once and awhile too. They compliment each other well and really make you care about what happens to them.
One of the fun aspects of Drama Queen is the highly stylized fantasy world that Mary often projects herself into. It is cleverly designed, like some kind of live-action cartoon with lots of visually imaginative images that look like they jumped right out of Mary’s scrapbook.
Director Sara Sugarman does a fine job directing. She has a good eye for detail—especially the opening credit sequence, which features gorgeous aerial photography of New York City. Sugarman uses lots of bright, flashy colours and is able to get decent performances out of her young cast.
“Confessions from the Set” is a brief behind-the-scenes featurette. It certainly looks like Lindsay Lohan and Alison Pill had a lot of fun making the movie and shooting in New York City, judging from the footage of the two girls hamming it up together.
“Eliza’s Fantasy” is a deleted scene that occurs while Mary is auditioning for the school play. She imagines her and Stu Wolff playing the two leads in a surreal scene that pays homage to Being John Malkovich (1999).
There is also a music video for “That Girl” by Lindsay Lohan who proves that she can rock out just as well as Hilary Duff in the bubblegum pop arena.
Finally, there is an audio commentary by director Sara Sugarman, writer Gail Parent and producers Robert Shapiro and Jerry Leider. It is somewhat of a chaotic track as everyone fights for air time, sometimes talking over each other. It is a fun track as they all joke around with each other and talk about various aspects of making the movie.
Ultimately, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is Mary’s coming to terms with her fantasy life versus the real world. She learns that living a lie will always come back to haunt her. Judging by this movie Lindsay is winning the cinematic war against Hilary Duff. Her films are clever, visually interesting and even try to impart a moral message without being too overtly preachy about it.