The Bling Ring

Directed By: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Georgia Rock, Emma Watson, and Leslie Mann

Earlier this year, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers rocked the box office.  It was an oversexed movie with a purpose about four teen princesses turning to a life of crime for the chance of having a legendary spring break.  Showing a life of crime and partying in all its decadent glory, Korine dished out some potent commentary on what the mythical American dream could mean today.  This weekend, Sofia Coppola (daughter of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola) has a new film in theaters that attempts to do something remarkably similar to Spring Breakers  and explore the sad reality that we as a society put celebrities on pedestals entirely too much.  Unlike Korine though, Coppola forgot to make an entertaining movie along the way.  Her movie The Bling Ring sucks.

Out in Calabasas, California, a young teenager named Marc (Israel Broussard) has landed himself in Indian Hills, an alternative school for the naughtier students in the area.  There, he meets a girl named Rebecca (Katie Chang), who has a bad habit of breaking into cars, taking them for joyrides, and stealing whatever valuables she finds.  With Marc at her side, Rebecca takes the kleptomaniac in her to a whole new level and starts breaking into homes.  Getting even greedier, Rebecca and Marc learn that Paris Hilton will be out of town and decide to break into the celebrity's home.  It's time for them to go shopping.

As Marc and Rebecca begin to get a taste for more of the celebrity lifestyle, they bring their friends into their operation.  This includes wannabe Miss USA Nicki (Emma Watson), her sister and partner in crime Sam (Taissa Farmiga), and their friend Chloe (Claire Julien).  The so-called "Bling Ring" returns to Paris Hilton's home for more goodies.  As they have a taste for more money, clothes, and jewels, they expand their horizon and hit up celebrities such as Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, Audrina Partridge, and their beloved Lindsay Lohan.  Living the rich lifestyle on someone else's dime can't last forever when you're a dumb criminal though.

In the words of M.I.A., "live fast die young bad girls [don't] do it well" in The Bling Ring.  Despite a glossy soundtrack with the likes of Kanye West, Rick Ross, and many other performers who have sat atop the music charts in recent years, Sofia Coppola's film fails on so many levels.  I realize that it's based on a true story.  I realize that the actual teens on whom this movie is based were some of the world's dumbest criminals because they did anything but lay low after such major robberies.  I realize that these celebrities who live in bubbles probably got what they deserved for being dumb enough to leave the doors to millions in cash and goods wide open.  I can't dispute the truths of what happened with the real Bling Ring.  However, I can dispute the notion that The Bling Ring is even remotely entertaining.

The biggest problems with The Bling Ring are a meandering script and no semblance of character development whatsoever.  With regard to the screenplay, I understand that Sofia Coppola is trying to capture the whims of some naughty teenagers on camera, but this doesn't mean that the story has to flow equally as whimsically.  We need a plot that more explicitly fleshes out the themes of putting celebrities on pedestals.  We need a little more commentary on our society's ridiculous obsession with the lives of these idolized few — what they do, what they wear, what they eat (or don't eat), or even when they go to the bathroom.  With only hints of this theme periodically surfacing throughout the movie, Coppola's film lacks any real sense of direction or purpose.

The poor writing goes hand in hand with character development or lack thereof in The Bling Ring.  We need plot points to give meaning to our character's actions and their motivations.  We have no idea what makes them tick other than the simple notion that they're bad teenagers.  In particular, we have no idea what makes our ring leader Rebecca tick.  She's a kleptomaniac from the start of the film.  She's probably just a bad seed living the good life out in Cali after her parents' divorce.  Coppola doesn't give us an introspective look at her characters though, so I don't know this for sure.  On the whole, we're left to make too many assumptions about each of these characters.  Coppola simply doesn't develop them enough.

Coppola can share the blame with her cast, because they drop the ball in The Bling Ring too.  They all deliver some terrible performances.  As the group's leader Rebecca, Katie Chang brings no personality to the camera whatsoever.  I don't love her character.  I don't hate her character.  With such a bland performance, she gives us no reason to give a damn about her throughout the movie.  Israel Broussard's Marc is equally as uninspiring and arguably is an even blander character.  For Harry Potter alum Emma Watson, The Bling Ring marks the first major misstep of her career after graduating from Hogwarts.  Her biggest issue is that she can't seem to master an American accent, and this really adds a strange twist to her already aloof performance.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was enough for her.  She doesn't have to keep doing teen movies.  She risks getting pigeonholed in roles she won't be able to play much longer.

The Bling Ring is just a bizarre film.  With poor writing and poor acting, a great deal is missing from this film.  Director Sofia Coppola leaves a lot to be desired from her rather erratic screenplay.  The cast delivers uninteresting characters to whom we can't relate and with whom we can't connect.  Ultimately, this all means that we as an audience aren't invested in the film because we don't care what happens to these characters or the idiotic celebrities they rob.  This movie really could have been the next Spring Breakers.  It could have dished out some potent commentary on how our society completely overvalues celebrities.  Instead, it's a meandering piece of garbage that leaves me craving a few Alabama Slammers.  The Bling Ring gets a wasted rating.  Feel free to skip this one.