Film review: 'Undiscovered' pleasant but no find

While not innovative, film has laudable quirks and humor

Published: Friday, Aug. 26 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

UNDISCOVERED — ** 1/2 — Pell James, Steven Strait, Kip Pardue; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, partial nudity, profanity, drugs).

Ah, fame. Its seduction fuels the entire tabloid industry and has inspired the reality-TV craze. Visit any school, and many students will voice dreams of becoming entertainers or athletes, not based on any artistic passion or physical prowess but because of their desire to be famous.

"Undiscovered" pretends to mock the allure of fame, but it really buys into it. Because while fame can bring money and attention, what it actually offers is power, and that's a drug few humans can resist.

"Undiscovered" is a romantic comedy aiming for a Gen-Y audience. It's about a New York model who locks eyes briefly but magnetically with a struggling musician one day on the subway and then miraculously connects with him again after both have moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams.

Unfortunately, when Brier Tucket (Pell James) and Luke Falcon (Steven Strait) meet at the tiny L.A. club where Luke's performing, Brier is trying to get over a stormy relationship with a popular rocker, Mick Benson (Stephen Moyer). She wants to concentrate on becoming an actress, and she refuses to date another musician, so she insists to Luke that she can be no more than friends.

Even so, Brier wants Luke to succeed, and she and acting-class pal Clea (Ashlee Simpson) dream up a plan to get Luke the hype he needs to land a recording contract. While their scheme proves successful, it has unintended consequences.

The feature debut of veteran video director Meiert Avis, "Undiscovered" is a good example of an independent film with mainstream aspirations. It's as lightweight and fluffy as any studio movie but with leaner camerawork and production design.

The plot of John Galt's script is predictable and sometimes annoying, but "Undiscovered" has a couple of saving graces. One is a soundtrack that's filled with engaging tunes, several of them performed by Strait and Simpson. (Simpson actually redeems herself somewhat from her "Saturday Night Live" pre-recorded-track debacle.) The film's other asset is a supporting cast that ranges from colorful veterans like Carrie Fisher and Peter Weller to adventurous younger stars like Kip Pardue and Shannyn Sossamon. They bring the corners of the film to life around the pretty, paper-doll ordinariness of James and Strait.

Though structurally it scores no points for innovation, the film has some laudable quirks and humor. "Undiscovered" isn't a find, but neither is it unpleasant.

"Undiscovered" is rated PG-13 for sexual material including dialogue, partial nudity, language and drug content. Running time: 92 minutes.

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