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Does Kristen Bell's 'The Lifeguard' Sink or Swim?

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire July 30, 2013 at 2:01PM

Is the story of Kristen Bell as a crisis-plagued reporter going back to her childhood home worth the pre-theatrical rental?
1
Lifeguard

More and more films premiere on Video on Demand -- if they don't simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. The movie: 'The Lifeguard,' with Kristen Bell as a reporter who returns to her childhood in search of herself. Find it on iTunes here. 

Director: Liz W. Garcia

Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr

Synopsis: A former valedictorian quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager. 

Trailer:


Reviews:

Peter Debruge, Variety

Kristen Bell bucks her good-girl image in a role that suggests how a twisted 10-year reunion might look had Veronica Mars become a sexy New York reporter, hit a wall and been forced back to suburbia. Drowning in self-pity is about as fun to watch as it sounds, however, which will mean difficulty getting people interested for any but prurient reasons.

Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

Although a slight, overly contrived film, The Lifeguard will nevertheless strike chords with young women approaching and contending with their 30s. 

Kyle Smith, New York Post

Managing to be both contrived on the one hand and meandering and dull on the other, writer-director Liz Garcia’s comedy-drama The Lifeguard finds a New York City Associated Press reporter named Leigh losing her groove and moving back to her parents' house in Connecticut to try to get it back.

Alison Loring, Film School Rejects

The narrative and performances are engaging enough up until the third act, but that is when you expect some real comeuppance to justify that Leigh's decision to go back home perhaps did teach her something, otherwise the film comes off as a risky summer vacation that everyone easily walked away from. 

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com http://www.film.com/movies/the-lifeguard-review

"I just want to get out of here!" is the refrain of the sullen teenagers in Liz Garcia’s debut film, The Lifeguard. I identified. They were talking about their boring Connecticut town; I was thinking about the theater.

Ben Pearson, First Showing:

Bell does some good work, Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep's daughter) is solid, and Martin Starr is funny as always, but if you saw Melanie Lynskey's Hello I Must Be Going last year, you've already seen the major plot points of this film play out in a much more effective manner. 


This article is related to: VODetails, Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer


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