Chris Colfer Outdoes Tina Fey with His Script for "Struck By Lightning"

by Bryce J. Renninger
April 21, 2012 10:32 PM
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"Struck by Lightning"

I've never wanted to be a professional critic because I always feel there are so many opinions that are unexplainable.

Case in point:  While Tina Fey kills it for me with her take on the state of the entertainment industry on "30 Rock," I've never been able to articulate why "Mean Girls" is just not my thing.  It's fine, just not wear-out-the-VHS good. 

This is just something that people who love me have had to come to terms with without really understanding.

And while I don't want to overstate my appreciation for Brian Dannely's Tribeca World Premiere "Struck By Lightning," based on the freshman script from Glee's Chris Colfer, the film surpassed my expectations...and was actually really good.  It is, like "Mean Girls," a film about the troubles of fitting in high school that is filled with plenty of camp and the absurd.

But it's written by a gay kid.  In the film, a gay kid from a small town doesn't know how to do what it is he wants to do; the opportunities don't seem to be in the town limits of Clover.  Okay...I confess, the similarities with my own life made me sentimental.

The plot is outlandish:  a revenge fantasy where Colfer's character, Carson Phillips, uses the dirt he's dug up on his school's most popular students to help him with a project designed to get him into his dream school, Northwestern.

The film is definitely a fantasy -- it is, in fact  told after Carson has been struck dead by lightning -- and so it ends (unsurprisingly) with a message about making the most of your time on Earth.  It feels, though, like exactly the fantasy I'd like to see late at night on a cable channel when I was twelve or thirteen, wondering why I didn't feel I fit in.

In introducing the film, director Brian Dannely said that when he got the script, he was told it was written by one of the Glee kids, and he said "Oh god...."  It turned out, he said, that the script was actually good.  The script felt a bit like some of the finest contemporary sitcom writing, but that's not necessarily a bad thing when you compare that to most indie comedies these days.  I don't doubt that the quite capable script helped the team snag some fine actors:  Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, "Modern Family"'s Sarah Hyland, "Bridesmaids"' Rebel Wilson, "The Office"'s Angela Kinsey, and Dermot Mulroney.  All give 100%, especially Wilson, Kinsey, and Janney.

And of course, Mr. Colfer is a star who is all too easy to ignore while he is still on Glee.  Just watch:  Colfer will be one of the most interesting pop culture voices of this generation.  I've been sure of this since seeing him co-present Jane Lynch with a lifetime achievement award two years ago at Outfest.  His comic smarts far exceed what we've seen on the screen so far.  "Struck By Lightning" is exactly what he needed to do.  Get it, girl.

Bryce J. Renninger considers his next sip.

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  • EB | January 9, 2013 7:19 AMReply

    I can see why this kid is always nominated for Golden Globes and Emmy's. In all honesty, Chris Colfer is one of the most skilled, realistic and amazing actors living and breathing in this world we live in. And he is just 22. Talk about amazing.

  • Q_T | September 17, 2012 8:55 PMReply

    This film is awful and promotes bullying.

  • katz | October 16, 2012 11:51 AM

    Have you even seen the movie? O.o
    ok if you think the movie is awful but that's your opinion there are plenty of us who think otherwise.
    You are probably THE Chris hater who always bullies his fans and leaves awful comments everywhere. leave us already and leave Internet.

    And about this review, I don't think Carson was gay or at least it wasn't mentioned in the movie. So did you think it was autographical movie? like chris= carson? I remember interviews where Chris Colfer been denying it.
    But Carson sexuality wasn't questioned there so I suppose you can pick whatever you can relate to well, which is very clever, kudos Chris!

  • Dan | May 13, 2012 2:49 PMReply

    hi I never saw Carson as gay to be honest I just took him to be asexual

  • T_I | April 28, 2012 5:10 PMReply

    I'm not affiliated with the film but I am a supporter of independent films and want word to get out about good ones, so could you post this review up at Rotten Tomatoes? I know indieWIRE has access there. Thanks! There's so many good actors in this film, and I hope it gets to be seen by a lot of people.

  • rgm | April 25, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    Bryce, it is probably a good thing that you do not want to be a professional critic.

  • iyyak | April 23, 2012 10:58 PMReply

    Totally love that you loved the movie and I can't wait to see it! Although I feel it necessary to point out that Chris Colfer himself has said that his characters' sexuality is purposefully not addressed in the film. And the actress from Bridesmaids is Rebel Wilson, I believe.

  • marie | April 22, 2012 8:49 AMReply

    bravo baby !

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