9/24/2010

Blu-ray Review: Triple Dog (2009)


Now Available to Own





Like endless amounts of taffeta used to cover up the baby bump of the pregnant cheerleader at the prom, screenwriter Barbara Marshall employs hyper stylized dialogue to help her less than empathetic characters try to talk their way out of the cinematic quicksand in which they find themselves in Triple Dog.

Unfortunately, this after school special masquerading as an edgy teen drama isn’t done any favors given the decision to pen faux-trendy lines that sound as though a highly caffeinated Diablo Cody was hired to write an episode of Gossip Girl while suffering through a killer case of PMS.

Whether they're asking each other what the “bitchuation” is or summing up another girl's TMI over-share as “ear rape,” not a whole lot of the conversations our characters have sound the least bit genuine, which makes the dialogue right on par with the rest of the script.

From dragging out the melodrama as the girls discover the truth about what really happened to a local schoolgirl who drowned to “quirking” it up beyond all comprehension as one teen senselessly carries a rat around in her bag, Triple Dog suffers from awkward tonal changes and -- despite the talented actors portraying them -- a mostly unlikable cast of characters.

While I do give Marshall immense credit for attempting to tackle the incredibly timely, important and complicated issue of bullying and the perils of peer pressure that go right along with it, perhaps using a gimmicky plot device as the girls embark on a game of “Triple Dog Dare” (aka “Truth or Dare” minus the truth) wasn’t the best approach.

Hoping to liven up the sixteenth sleepover birthday party of her best friend Eve (Alexia Fast) beyond just facials and pedicures, the recently suspended alpha female Chapin (Brittany Robertson) introduces the mostly reluctant group of girls to the minimal rules of the sadistic game.

From streaking to stealing with an emphasis on humiliation and danger, as the girls take turns one by one challenging each other to the increasingly out-of-control activity, soon they realize that much more may be at stake than simply the recurring dare of shaving one’s head if they’re unable to carry out the task.

Crisscrossing the linear events of the evening with what’s gone on amongst the group over the past four days at high school including fights, rumors, and wondering just why Chapin transferred to their school after the death of the classmate who took a swan dive off a bridge, eventually truths are revealed amidst the dares even though it isn’t the name of the game.

And again, while overall the point of the film is admirable in theory, because it’s so episodic, centers on a fake bonding ritual that consists of cruelty and mean-spiritedness, we never truly buy the ultimate emotional payoff for Chapin (complete with a song cue that is so forced it made me laugh)... or Eve for that matter.

Of course, using Triple Dog to drive the moral home may have worked much better if the filmmakers would’ve given us fewer cookie cutter character clich├ęs. Another idea that may proved beneficial could've been by deleting two similar classmates to instead create one much stronger role with which we could at least better understand if not identify, since ultimately there’s nothing memorable about any of the individuals.

While in other words, it isn’t “ear rape” and technically the Blu-ray is slightly above average, the same cannot be said for the film’s “bitchuation.”

A fittingly ugly depiction of peer pressure that could’ve been far more effective if the tactics used to bring it to life weren’t quite as ugly as the storyline, while Dog came from a legitimate need to call attention to this issue, unfortunately considering the mixed messages at work here and an ending that just doesn’t feel emotionally authentic, Franchot’s film doesn’t meet this goal.


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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.