A version of this review appeared in The Age, July 26, 2012.
Early in LOL, the teenage heroine Lola (Miley Cyrus) strolls into the family bathroom where her mother Anne (Demi Moore) and younger sister are sharing the tub. While Lola prepares for a shower, Anne glances over and reacts in mild horror: “Is that a Brazilian?” As a modern young woman, Lola refuses to be judged on her grooming choices: “It's my body and I'll take care of it how I want.”
It's not a scene you'd expect to see in the average American teen movie. In fact, LOL is a remake of a 2008 French hit of the same title with the setting transferred to Chicago, still in the hands of Lisa Azuelos, the original director. The result is a curious mixture of gloss and emotional realism. Lola's class at school includes enough glamorous young actors for a Gregg Araki film (the single designated dork is played by Adam G. Sevani from the Step Up series, who gets to perform a two-second dance routine).
Love and sex are the topics that preoccupy most of the kids, even the virgins such as Lola; meanwhile, the divorced Anne has to grapple with her own romantic choices. The whole thing works better than expected, mainly thanks to Cyrus, who turns out to be pretty good at playing a pushy, bratty, yet basically affectionate teenage girl. Even Moore manages to show more personality than usual; there's a strong sense that both stars are dealing with material close to home.