The Bling Ring Movie Review — Take Your Adderall Before Watching

“Girls, time for your Adderall!” According to the film “The Bling Ring,” this is how the morning ritual started at Nikki’s home before the home-school day began.

“The Bling Ring” stars Emma Watson as Nikki, Katie Chang as the mastermind Rebecca, and Israel Broussard as Marc, and they form the group of misfit Indian Hills High School friends who seemed to have too much time on their hands, and no parents around to direct them.

Bling Ring

In 2010, news of the infamous teenage burglars permeated the media. “The Bling Ring” is about a brazen group of Los Angeles well-to-do kids who broke in and robbed the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Billson, and Lindsay Lohan, and they were as strange as the people who owned the homes they invaded.

At least this is how the young criminals are portrayed in Sophia Coppola’s rendition of these events, which are partly based on information gathered during an interview Alexis Neiers (Nikki in the film) gave to Jo Sales of the fashion magazine Vanity Fair. Sales and Coppola co-wrote the screenplay.

Let me preface this piece by telling you that I had a difficult time accepting this film as the work of the same person who brought us “Lost in Translation.” Sofia Coppola has much better credits to her name, and I thought this movie was essentially B-A-D. It was far too vapid and superficial to capture my attention.

One frustrating aspect of this film, is that the story doesn’t seem to move forward as rapidly or cohesively as we would like it to, but there might be a reason for this. There wasn’t much to these kids’ lives, and Coppola makes us feel the boredom and tedium the teenagers lived with which led them to find excitement and belonging in the wrong place. In fact, the disjointed scenes make the viewer wonder if the film is strange or if we aren’t getting it at all! During the screening, I thought I needed the Attention Deficit Disorder medication constantly referenced in the reel a few times myself!

Though the audience is pretty much aware of the story and the outcome for the shameless crooks, the film doesn’t delve deeply into these real-life characters’ pasts, something that would probably provide a glimpse into the background of the unwholesome hoodlums and a reason for their criminality. The viewers are left to figure things out, or better yet, renders us completely unable to understand why these kids would be so dumb and daring — they actually flaunted their exploits to the cyber world via Facebook.

Perhaps the most bewildering aspect of this film for me, is the sheer and unabashed absence of the parents. They make a handful of appearances, and when they do, you wish they hadn’t.

For responsible adults, this film will test every fiber of your parenting instincts.

In one scene, the ditzy mother Laurie (Leslie Mann), intent on home-schooling three teenage girls in the method based on The Secret, tries to find out where her older daughter got a new dress she’s wearing at the dinner table. “Is that a new dress?” she timidly asks, only to get a mouthful of lies from the crafty girls telling both mom and dad they were going out later to meet with a producer who could really help them with their Hollywood dreams. The obvious problem illustrated in this scene alone is that these parents weren’t all there either. After all, what parent in their right mind would allow a teenage girl to go out to meet a man, a total stranger, at night wearing a skin-tight dress?!

Flighty and un-preoccupied with their children’s whereabouts or friends, the adults in this film are just as lost and self absorbed, which is probably all the explanation the audience needs to understand how (un)average teenagers could have masterminded such heists.

The film does a good job of representing the superficiality the celebrity culture has infused youngsters with; thinking that owning the luxury goods the stars do is a way to feel successful and part of the young Hollywood society. Rather than work to be able to pay for an Hermes Birkin bag ($130,000), lifting it from a celebrity, who owns so much of these expensive items anyway, was much easier.

The pretentious nature of both the actual perpetrators and the victims make this movie hard to like.

In spite of the focus on the materialism typically associated with L.A. lifestyles, “The Bling Ring” does have a couple of saving points. One, parents should go watch this with their teenagers — who will likely want to see this film if only to get a peek at Paris Hilton’s real closet — so both parents and kids can see that the Hollywood culture that saturates today’s society is not all that it is built up to be by the media. Second, there has to be more to a teenagers’ life than clubbing, drinking, doing drugs, and possessions.

I suspect this film might find a comfortable adolescent audience, and this may not be such a bad thing. “The Bling Ring” offers both parents and kids a subliminal message: Get your own life and don’t try to be someone you are not. There are no short cuts to success.

At least this is what I would like it to be.

“The Bling Ring” opens in theaters June 21

Rated R (I watched this movie and think the R rating is for pervasive drug use and age-inappropriate language and behavior.)

Running time 90 minutes


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