Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Chalet Girl

Chalet Girl
Dir. Phil Traill
Year: 2011
Aus Rating: PG
Running Time: 97mins

No one – so they say – sets out to make a bad movie (unless you’re Hobo with a Shotgun, but we’ll get to that later this week!), but is it possible to set out to make a merely adequate one? Such is the case, surely, with Chalet Girl, a movie that can’t claim to have a single original frame in its reel, and never once approaches anything close to quality filmmaking, and yet never really reaches any particularly glaring level of awfulness. It’s all so merely… adequate, almost as if it’s pleased to be so. In fact, so much of the charm that director Phil Traill manages to eke out of the material is based purely on how mercilessly he and screenwriter Tom Williams plunder clichés and the sincerity with which do so.

It’s hard to imagine that anybody involved in the making of Chalet Girl thought this was anything that would ever have a poster featuring quotes like “exemplary!” and “an astonishing work of cinema!” Made in 2010, I can’t help but presume the screenplay has been lying around gathering dust since the early 2000s when this sub-genre of see-girls-can-play-sports-too! films were all the rage in the wake of Bring It On. Chalet Girl certainly lacks that stellar cheerleading comedy’s ripper script and stellar performances, but it also never raises much of a sweat in attempting to give Bend it Like Beckham a run for its money (we won’t speak of Blue Crush). It’s as if everyone just shrugged their shoulders, somehow produced a film and figured that was that.

If the buzz for star Felicity Jones’ next role, indie romance Like Crazy, is correct then we can be assured that Chalet Girl will only ever be discussed by future generations in a “…starring in teen sporting comedy Chalet Girl before hitting the big time…” context as there’s certainly nothing here to endear it to audiences for any longer than it remains on the new release shelves at Blockbuster. In fact, as I mentioned before, nothing about this film feels particularly like 2011 at all. They couldn’t even sync up the production with the Winter Olympics, which would have provided some relevance to the whole thing.

Jones stars as Kim, a poor (as in “aw, diddums” and “wow, I’m broke!” varieties) teenage skateboarding competitor whose mother dies in a road accident, rendering her father a lazy slob and she a housemaid. Accepting a job as “chalet girl” in the Austrian mountains, Kim finds herself in her own episode of Downton Abbey as she falls in love with the upstairs billionaire’s son, played by Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick with an accent as flip-floppy as Anne Hathaway’s in One Day. Naturally, there’s an upcoming snowboarding competition that she finds herself entering despite having never put feet to snow before in her life. This is, of course, on the nudging of a pro-sportswoman Tara Dakides, which brings the number of snowboarders appearing in romantic comedies this year to two after Shaun White’s appearance in the appalling Friends with Benefits. Whereas he was the antithesis of funny, Dakides appears barely lucid and perhaps on painkillers to numb the effect of Westwick’s painful accent.

Everything in Chalet Girl goes exactly as you expect, right on down to the sex scene that ends with her pulling the sheets up over her breasts and yet he, more casually, lets them lie around his navel. One day somebody’s going to start a Tumblr named “The L-Shaped Bed Sheet” and screencap every single movie in which this strange bedtime habit is enacted. Until then we have Chalet Girl, a film that manages to get by due to being so incessantly clichéd that it somehow becomes enjoyable. If I sound overly harsh towards Chalet Girl, I don’t really mean to, it’s so gosh darn easy. And just think, I haven’t even mentioned Brooke Shields! C+


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Isn't Ed British?

Glenn Dunks said...

Indeed, which makes the accent even more peculiar. See also Gillian Anderson.