Struck by Lightning (2012 film)
|Struck by Lightning|
|Directed by||Brian Dannelly|
|Produced by||David Permut|
|Written by||Chris Colfer|
Brad William Henke
|Music by||Jake Monaco|
|Edited by||Tia Nolan|
|Distributed by||Tribeca Film|
Struck by Lightning is a 2012 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Brian Dannelly and written by and starring Chris Colfer. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 21 April 2012, and was released theatrically on 11 January 2013. It features the final screen appearance of actress Polly Bergen.
High school senior Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) is struck and killed by lightning. The film is a flashback of recent events of his life. Carson has plans to go to Northwestern University to become an editor for The New Yorker, but has been unsuccessful in making the dreams happen.
During a writer's club meeting, Malerie Baggs (Rebel Wilson) asks Carson for advice about her writing. Carson says that she cannot find the ideas, the ideas have to find her. He goes to a student council meeting run by head cheerleader Claire Matthews (Sarah Hyland). Everyone in student council ignores him because of his objections to their ideas. As Carson's mother Sheryl is picking up prescriptions, she makes small talk with the new pharmacist April Adams (Christina Hendricks), who is pregnant and Carson's future step mother. Carson also visits his grandmother (Polly Bergen), but she does not know who he is due to Alzheimer's disease.
As Carson is finishing up the school paper at night, he catches wealthy student Nicholas Forbes (Carter Jenkins) and the drama club president Scott Thomas (Graham Rogers) kissing. Nicholas begs Carson not to tell anyone of his homosexuality. Carson agrees on the condition that they will contribute to the paper until they both graduate.
April and Carson's father, Neal, visit a lawyer to straighten out legal issues. April, who is unaware about Carson or Sheryl, storms out when she learns Neal is still legally married and has a child.
Carson's guidance counselor (Angela Kinsey) informs him that to improve his chances of getting into Northwestern, he needs to submit to a literary magazine. He gets permission to start the magazine from his 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. When Malerie suggests that others will join because Carson convinced Scott and Nicholas to write for the school paper, Carson tells her the real reason behind their participation. She reveals that she caught Claire having sex with Coach Walker (Charlie Finn), who is the brother of her boyfriend, Justin (Robbie Amell). Malerie says that everyone in their school probably has an embarrassing secret that they would not want exposed.
Sheryl meets April filling a prescription. April recognizes Carson's name on the anti-depressant prescription. She goes home to Neal and demands to meet his son. During the homecoming parade, Carson is forced to pull the writer's club float after the cheerleaders take the car he was assigned. Feeling more humiliated, Carson blackmails several of his peers into writing for his literary magazine. Together, he and Malerie blackmail fellow school paper members Dwayne (Matt Prokop), yearbook president Remy Baker (Allie Grant), Vicki (Ashley Rickards), and a supposed foreign exchange student Emilio (Roberto Aguire).
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 a way to make the issue more popular among the student body.
After school, Carson gets a call from Neal, who tells him about April and the baby. He wants them to get together soon. During dinner with Neal and April, Carson realizes that his father is trying to sound like he has been more present in Carson's life, which quickly dissolves into an argument. Carson leaves in anger. During a student council meeting with the principal, Carson opposes a ban on clothing logos. As punishment, the principal revokes all off-campus privileges for students.
During another encounter, Sheryl tells April that she gave her husband everything, and was left with nothing. She says that she was just like April and had a child to keep him, but it didn't work. Carson completes the literary magazine, but it fails. Carson learns that he was accepted into Northwestern, but he never confirmed his admission. He has to reapply. Carson assumes his letter was lost in the mail, but Sheryl admits she threw away his acceptance letter to protect him from the reality that his dreams will never come true.
While Carson and Malerie pack up the unread literary magazines, Carson asks her why she likes to film everything. Malerie tells him about her beliefs about the present being the most important thing, not the past. As Malerie is leaving, she asks Carson if they are friends. He says they are best friends. Carson decides that there is one story left to write; his own. He explains how he realized, despite everything he went through, he did get other students to write for the literary magazine. Now he is truly happy. He leaves, going outside as 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 is 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 head of the school's writing club. He is handsome, intelligent and ambitious but disliked, belittled and insulted by his peers, mostly for his sarcastic and dry personality that he gained after his parents' divorce.
- Adam Kolkin as Young Carson Phillips
- Allison Janney as Sheryl Phillips, Carson's alcoholic and pill-popping single mother.
- Christina Hendricks as April, Carson's father's pregnant fiancée.
- Sarah Hyland as Claire Mathews, the head cheerleader and class president.
- Carter Jenkins as Nicholas Forbes, a wealthy, closeted gay student.
- Brad William Henke as Principal Gifford, the school principal.
- Rebel Wilson as Malerie Baggs, Carson's best friend.
- Angela Kinsey as Ms. Sharpton, the guidance counselor.
- Polly Bergen as Grandma, Carson's grandmother who's suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
- Dermot Mulroney as Neal Phillips, Carson's absent father.
- Allie Grant as Remy Baker, the editor of the school yearbook.
- Ashley Rickards as Vicki Jordan, an apathetic goth girl.
- Robbie Amell as Justin Walker, the captain of the football team.
- Charlie Finn as Coach Colin Walker, the football coach and Justin's brother.
- Roberto Aguire as Emilio Lopez
- Matt Prokop as Dwayne Michaels
- Graham Rogers as Scott Thomas, the drama club president.
- Michael Van London as Caretaker (uncredited)
He also wrote and sang three songs in the film: "Sound of an Amp", "Downtown" and "Feel Love" © Michael Van London Recordings ASCAP
The film had its world premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival on 21 April 2012. The film was released on VOD prior to its theatrical release on 11 January 2013. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 21 May 2013.
Struck by Lightning received mixed reviews, holding a Metacritic score of 41, and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 32%. 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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