Struck by Lightning (2012 film)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2013)|
|Struck by Lightning|
|Directed by||Brian Dannelly|
|Produced by||David Permut
|Written by||Chris Colfer|
|Music by||Jake Monaco|
|Editing by||Tia Nolan|
|Distributed by||Tribeca Film|
|Running time||84 minutes|
Struck by Lightning is a 2012 coming-of-age comedy-drama film written by and starring Chris Colfer, also based on his novel, and directed by Brian Dannelly. After high school senior Carson Phillips is struck by lightning and killed in his high-school parking lot, he recounts the way he blackmailed his classmates into contributing to his literary magazine.
The film had its world premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2012. The film is now available on Demand and was released theatrically on January 11, 2013. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 21, 2013.
High school senior Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) is randomly struck and killed by lightning and the rest of the movie is a flashback of his life. He desires to go to Northwestern University in order to one day become the youngest editor for The New Yorker, but so far is having limited success in making those dreams happen.
One day during a writer's club meeting, Malerie Baggs (Rebel Wilson) comes in to get advice about her short stories. Carson tells her not to give up, and says that she can't find the ideas, the ideas have to find her. He later goes to a student council meeting run by head cheerleader Claire Matthews (Sarah Hyland). Claire, as well as everyone in student council, resort to ignoring him due to his constant objections to their ideas. While Sheryl is picking up several prescriptions, she makes idle small talk with the cheerful new pharmacist April (Christina Hendricks), who is six months pregnant. Carson also visits his grandmother (Polly Bergen), the first person who encouraged his writing, but she doesn't know who he is due to Alzheimer's disease. She tells him her grandson used to be so happy and full of life, but was now his own personal rain cloud.
As Carson is finishing up the school paper late at night, he accidentally catches wealthy student Nicholas Forbes (Carter Jenkins) and flamboyant drama club president Scott Thomas (Graham Rogers) making out in a bathroom stall. Nicholas, horrified, begs Carson not to tell anyone since his rich family would disapprove of his homosexuality. Carson agrees on the condition that they will contribute to the paper until they both graduate. April and Neal visit Neal's lawyer to straighten out some legal issues. April, who had no knowledge about Carson or Sheryl, storms out when she learns Neal is still legally married, and has a child she never knew about. Carson's guidance counselor (Angela Kinsey) informs him that one way to improve his chances of getting into Northwestern is to submit a literary magazine in order to show he can inspire others to write. He gets permission to start the magazine from his conservative principal (Brad William Henke). He announces at a school assembly that all entries will be taken, but later finds the submission box filled with nothing but trash. Carson tells Malerie the real reason behind their participation in the paper, and she reveals that she caught Claire having sex with Coach Walker (Charlie Finn), who is also the older brother of her boyfriend, Justin (Robbie Amell). Malorie goes on to say how everyone in their school probably has an embarrassing secret that they wouldn't want to get out.
Sheryl has another run-in with April when April recognizes Carson's name on the anti-depressant prescription. She then comes home to Neal and demands to meet his son. During the homecoming parade, Carson is forced to pull the writer's club float himself after the cheerleaders take the car they were assigned. Feeling more humiliated than ever, Carson decides to blackmail several of his peers into writing for the literary magazine. He tricks yearbook president Remy Baker (Allie Grant) into sending him a dirty picture that could ruin her reputation. Together, he and Malerie blackmail fellow school paper members Dwayne (Matt Prokop) for bringing marijuana to school, and goth girl Vicki (Ashley Rickards) for taking BDSM-style pictures that her church-going parents would disapprove of. Carson additionally discovers that supposed foreign exchange student Emilio (Robert Aguire) is from San Diego, knows only rudimentary Spanish, and is using his faux-exotic charm to seduce women.
During a meeting with the other students and Coach Walker, Carson extorts agreements that everyone must offer something to put in the magazine if they want their secrets to stay quiet. Carson also tells Claire and Coach Walker that they must have each cheerleader and football player submit something as well, as a way to make the issue more popular among the student body.
After school, Carson gets an unexpected call from his father. Neal tells him about April, the baby, and how he wants them to get together soon. When he has dinner with Neal and April, Carson realizes that his father is trying to make himself sound like he has been more present in Carson's life, which quickly results into an argument and Carson storming out. Later, during a student council meeting with the principal, Carson opposes a ban on clothing logos in school. As punishment, the principal revokes all off-campus privileges for students.
During another encounter a the pharmacy, Sheryl explains to April that she gave her husband everything, and was therefore left with nothing when he decided she wasn't enough for him and that just like April, she had a kid to keep him around, but that didn't change anything. Meanwhile, Carson completes the literary magazine, but it flops due to the backlash from the student body. Carson also learns that he was accepted into Northwestern, but since he never confirmed his admission, he must wait to reapply and go to community college in the meantime. Carson assumes his letter was lost in the mail, but after telling his mother, Sheryl admits she threw away his acceptance letter to protect him from her perceived "reality" that his dreams will probably never come true.
While Carson and Malerie pack up the unread literary magazines, Carson asks her why she likes to film everything. Malerie replies that "It doesn't matter if you're stuck in the past or if you're trying to forget the past, what matters is what you do in the present and I try to soak it up." As Malerie is leaving, she asks Carson if he thinks they're friends. He says they're best friends. Carson suddenly decides that there's one story left to write; his own. His voice-over explains how he finally realized that, despite everything he went through, he successfully got the other students to write for the literary magazine, so for the first time in his life, he was truly happy. He is then shown going outside as the thunder starts.
It takes over three days for people to find Carson's body. Many people, including the principal and the students who hated him, come to the funeral. It's shown that Carson did leave an impression on everyone he knew. Malerie takes over as president of the writers' club, while Sheryl visits her mother in assisted care.
- Chris Colfer as Carson Phillips, the main protagonist of the film and the head of the school's writing club. He is killed when he is struck by lightning in the opening scene. He is disliked, belittled and insulted by his peers, mostly for his sarcastic and dry personality that he gained after his parents' divorce. However, despite his constant sarcasm and bitterness, Carson is also seen as a very caring individual and puts who he loves first, such as being slightly forgiving and sympathetic towards Claire, often visiting his grandmother in the assisted living home, giving Malerie advice about her short stories, and covering his mother with a blanket when he sees her passed out on the couch.
- Allison Janney as Sheryl Phillips, Carson's alcoholic and pill-popping single mother who doesn't want him to leave home.
- Christina Hendricks as April, the pregnant fiancée of Carson's father, Neal. She goes to Carson's funeral, but has apparently broken up with Neal.
- Sarah Hyland as Claire Mathews, the bitchy head cheerleader, as well as the class president, who is having sex with her boyfriend's brother, the school football coach. It is later on revealed that the only reason for her bitchy behavior is because she gave up on her dreams of becoming a professional dancer, because she got laughed at by her second grade class, with Carson as the only exception. In the end, it's revealed that she took Carson's advice into consideration for ideas about the school prom.
- Carter Jenkins as Nicholas Forbes, a wealthy closeted gay student who is secretly involved with Scott Thomas.
- Brad Henke as Principal Gifford, the school principal with anger management issues.
- Rebel Wilson as Malerie Baggs, Carson's best friend and partner-in-crime. She likes to videotape everything in order to preserve her memories of high school.
- Angela Kinsey as Ms. Sharpton, the school's clueless guidance counselor.
- Polly Bergen as Grandma, Carson's grandmother who's suffering from Alzheimer's.
- Dermot Mulroney as Neal Phillips, Carson's absent father.
- Allie Grant as Remy Baker, the high-strung editor of the school yearbook.
- Ashley Rickards as Vicki Jordan, an apathetic goth girl.
- Robbie Amell as Justin Walker, the meat-head captain of the football team.
- Charlie Finn as Coach Colin Walker, the coach of the school's football team and Justin's older brother.
- Roberto Aguire as Emilio Lopez, supposedly a foreign exchange student from El Salvador, but he is actually from San Diego and only knows basic Spanish.
- Matt Prokop as Dwayne Michaels, the school's resident pothead.
- Graham Rogers as Scott Thomas, the flamboyant drama club president. Like Carson, he believes he is destined to do very big things in his life. By the end of the film, he and Nicholas are seen sitting together at Carson's funeral.
- Adam Kolkin as Young Carson Phillips.
- Taylor Clarke-Pepper as Dog Walker (uncredited)
- Michael Van London as Caretaker (uncredited) Michael also wrote and sang three songs in the film: Sound of an Amp, Downtown and Feel Love copyright Michael Van London Recordings ASCAP
Struck by Lightning has received mixed reception, holding a Metacritic score of 41, and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 30%. The most common complaint from reviewers was the fact that Colfer's character came off as too arrogant and cynical, and didn't manage to be likeable. Many reviews agreed that the dialogue was witty and funny and that the cast gave strong performances Many critics also praised Colfer's debut as a screenwriter.
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a B−, writing, "After his lofty aspirations to write for The New Yorker are cut painlessly and semi-amusingly short by a freak encounter with lightning, Carson looks back on his so-called life with the gently rueful wisdom that is frequently granted young dead people in flashback tales like this one. The message? Seize the day, kids. There are some real stresses in the fellow's life, many caused by his mess of a drunken single mom (an affecting Allison Janney)."
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