Undiscovered Movie Review

Watch enough movies and after a while you learn a few things. Here's one important lesson: When the number of ushers assigned to a theater showing a movie is greater than the number of people actually watching the movie, you're in trouble. For Undiscovered, the final count during this reviewer's public screening: Ushers 3; Audience Members 1.

This underwhelming romantic drama set against the backdrop of L.A.'s rock music scene doesn't break that rule. Oddly enough, what dooms the movie is its strict adherence to two overused story tactics, "a star is made; a star is destroyed" and "the missed opportunity" romance. Predictably, the results are not pleasant and ushers nationwide will have an easy time cleaning gum and cola off the floors.

The plot: A young man (Steven Strait) shares a sweet moment with a cute blond (Pell James) as he leaves a New York City subway car and she enters. Both go their separate ways, but the moment lingers.

Two years pass. The young man, Luke, has left New York to pursue a music career in Los Angeles, where he works odd jobs and sings in a smoky bar. The young woman, Briar (yup, Briar), continues a successful modeling career in New York until she's bitten by the acting bug and heads to L.A. She takes one acting class, befriends a singer named Clea (a not atrocious Ashlee Simpson), and winds up in that aforementioned smoky bar where she and her subway liaison meet.

For a movie to happen, their reunion must be complicated. Briar is dating an arrogant rock star she hasn't quite broken up with, and she's not completely thrilled with the idea of dating another musician. Luke, whose barely there goatee and greasy hair fits the musician profile, is crushed. To make amends/distance herself psychologically/add 25 minutes to the running time -- take your pick -- Clea and Briar begin to build fake buzz for Luke's fledgling career. As his star rises and then crashes, so does his relationship with the unsure, concerned Briar.

The fates are practically screaming for Luke and Briar to come together but obstacles are everywhere, whether it's Luke's relationship with a Brazilian model (Shannyn Sossamon, dear lord) or Briar's attachment to her rock star beau (Stephen Moyer). What's supposed to add a wrinkle to an anticipated ending sours the entire movie. No one sympathizes with people hell-bent on sabotaging their own happiness when the alternatives are so blatantly appealing. Also, it's hard to learn about the characters or their predicament when the director and writer refuse to have any scene last longer than a synapse. After all, Peter Weller and Carrie Fisher need time to phone in their lines. Plus, there's that endless airport rendezvous.

With its main plot full of bad decisions and predictable outcomes, some may rely on Undiscovered for its music. Keep looking. Luke is described as a mix of Jeff Buckley and Elvis Costello, but he sounds like a soulless, less ass-happy version of John Mayer. Most of the songs are performed in bars and clubs; virtually every song is pre-recorded and features a drum machine, deleting any bar decor director Meiert Avis wanted to establish. Of course, setting one scene with trapeze artists and two at a batting cage doesn't establish a grizzled feel. Ditto the skateboarding dog and an afro-sporting '70s cover band.

Poorly plotted, badly directed, indifferently acted, and about as rock n' roll as a Carol Channing concert, if ever there was a movie whose title deserved its fate, it is Undiscovered.

Spot the athlete.


Undiscovered Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2005


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