DVD Review - Careful What You Wish For

Nick Jonas is a pop star. He began singing and performing in a boy band with his two brothers when he was only 14. The Disney Channel put him on TV in various ways for three years, which helped his popularity. He started doing network television starting in 2011. This film represents Jonas' first film as a leading man, which he filmed while he was only 20-years-old. Arguably, this is his feature debut.

Written by Chris Frisina, it's based on or is similar to Body Heat (1981), which was itself based on or similar to Double Indemnity (1944). A man falls in love with a married woman and is ensnared in a murder plot of the woman's husband. Since the story isn't new, the question is why do it again or what's the new take. As has been the case with Hollywood films of the past decade, the new take is going younger with its protagonist. The man who falls in love here isn't a man but a college-age boy, practically a teenager. It's the same tactic as Disturbia (2007), the remake of Rear Window but with a teenager as the lead instead of a mature, grown-man who has his own life and career.

Nick Jonas stars as Doug Martin, a virginal boat-expert. He summers with his parents at their vacation home on the coast of North Carolina. He has a part-time job with his best friend at a seafood shack and bar where the sheriff plays in a band. He becomes infatuated with the wife of his wealthy, next-door neighbor. With no real effort, he's pulled into a secret affair with her.

Isabel Lucas (Immortals and Red Dawn) co-stars as Lena Harper, the aforementioned wife. She appears to be in an abusive relationship or at times a hostile or controlling one with her husband, Elliott Harper, played by Dermot Mulroney. She's a gorgeous blonde. We don't learn much about her or how she became married to this man. When her husband ends up dead, she enlists Doug in what looks like a panic to help her cover-up his death as an accident.

Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica and Hemlock Grove) also co-stars as Angie Alvarez, the insurance investigator who comes to determine if Elliott's death was an accident before the insurance company will issue the ten million-dollar payout to Lena. She butts heads with the local sheriff, played by Paul Sorvino, and she's really gung-ho about going after Doug once he's implicated.

This is where Frisina's screenplay begins to fall apart and there is a Basic Instinct-like twist at the end that completely undermines the whole thing, which would have been fine if this movie were as sexy as that 1992, Paul Verhoeven thriller. The beginning of this movie is all about teenage boys desiring sex. Sex is apparently the implication of the title. Unfortunately, director Elizabeth Allen Rosebaum glosses over sex or much semblance of sexiness or eroticism.

The shots are framed and angled so awkwardly as to avoid showing anything or allowing us to be excited for Doug at all. A better and sexier version of a young man having an affair with a married woman was the recent How He Fell in Love, directed by Marc Meyers. Yet, Meyers isn't constrained because his film is a genuine romance. Rosenbaum's film could not be more contrived. Sadly, Rosenbaum and Frisina think the contrivance is clever, but it isn't. To explain why would require a spoiler alert!

Spoiler alert!

Doug is framed for Elliott's murder. Lena is the one framing him. This might be easily guessed if one has seen Double Indemnity, but what might not be easily guessed is Angie helping Lena to frame Doug because actually Lena and Angie are lesbian lovers. Like in Park Chan-wook's The Handmaiden, this twist proves illogical and only complicates a plan for complication's sake, not for effectiveness. Framing Doug for murder is unnecessary if Angie was always a part of the plan because she's the investigator.

All of which could have been forgiven if this movie had built upon its inherent tension or suspense. It also could have been forgiven if the message at the end hadn't been so stupid. Doug basically concludes that being framed and going to prison for participating in a murder cover-up was all worth it because he was able to have sex with a gorgeous woman. It's ridiculous and highly juvenal.


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