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

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | The Lost Boys April 21, 2012 at 10:32PM

I've never wanted to be a professional critic because I always feel there are so many opinions that are unexplainable.
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"Struck by Lightning"
"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.
Bryce J. Renninger considers his next sip.

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