JDIFF 2013 Review – Struck by Lightning

High school student Carson (Chris Colfer) is struck by lightning, cutting short a promising life. Through flashback, Carson recounts the events that led up to his death, and the impact that he hoped to have on his typical American high school.

High school is a tricky place; most students are so unsure of themselves that they latch on to the stronger students or bully the weaker ones so that their own imperfections and insecurities so not have a spotlight shone on them. Struck by Lightning is the story of one of those people caught in the middle, who are trying to make something of themselves and drag others with them.

Written and produced by Glee star Chris Colfer, and supposedly inspired by real life events, Struck by Lightning focuses on Colfer’s character Carson. Carson could easily be dishes send as a bully, and he certainly has no qualms about resorting to blackmail to get the results that he wants, but the voiceover, which reveals the characters true thoughts and motivations are what saves the character. Carson is seemingly brash and obnoxious, but he is also revealed to be motivated and dissatisfied with his lot and determined to change it. Colfer obviously created the role for himself and he manages it well, but there are times when we forget why we are supposed to root for the character.

The supporting cast is made up of Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney and Christina Hendricks. Wilson plays a much more toned down character than we are used to seeing from the actress and she manages to be rather sweet. Hendricks is just pretty and put upon but Janney fares the best, as she gives Cheryl a rounded personality and motivations that are relatable. The supporting cast is just that; there to support Colfer, so they are not as well fleshed out as they could be, but since the cast is so good, they manage to be interesting at least.

Director Brian Dannelly has created another vanilla but sweet-ish high school story, but this story, like Dannelly’s recent work on Weeds and United States of Tara, is just a little bit skewed, so it is easy to see why the director was drawn to the film. The director does his best to make the smaller characters a little more rounded, even if they are not given a lot of screen time in which to do so.

Struck By Lightning is another coming of age teen story, with a dark twist. The lead character may border on obnoxious at times, but he is softened through the voice over. It would be easy to dismiss Struck by Lightning as another Glee Kid project, but some credit has to go to Colfer who is using his newfound fame to create content, rather than just star in it. Struck By Lightning has potential and some darkly funny lines, but since the supporting cast is not rounded out fully, the film is not quite as good as it could be.

Rating: 3/5

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