Girl in Progress
by Angela Walker, Contributing Writer
The permissiveness, disrespect and borderline explicit scenes do a great job of veiling the vague hints of redemption in this film.
With some films, you can tell in the first ten minutes that they're not going to be what you hoped. But you keep watching, thinking maybe they will get better. But they don't. Trust your instincts. If a film doesn't live up to its expectations in the first couple of scenes, 95% of the time it won't improve and you'll be left wishing you had your 90 minutes back.
GIRL IN PROGRESS tells the story of Grace (Eva Mendes), a single mom who is too busy juggling work, bills and the very married Dr. Hartford (Matthew Modine), to give her daughter, Ansiedad the attention she desperately needs.
When Ansiedad's English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), introduces her students to classic coming-of-age stories, Ansiedad is inspired to skip adolescence and jump-start her life without mom. While Grace becomes preoccupied with the increasing affections of her co-worker, Ansiedad enlists the help of her loyal friend,Tavita to plot her shortcut to "adulthood." But as her misguided plan unravels, Ansiedad and Grace must learn that sometimes growing-up means acting your age.
Just Don't Start
Where to begin with this review? If you want a blueprint that tells your daughter what mistakes to make on the path of life, have them watch this film. It reminds me of the movies that are cropping up on the Lifetime cable channel: real stories of kids gone terribly wrong turned into movies.
In the first few minutes, we see the mom seductively dressing for her date with her married doctor boyfriend while her daughter slaves away vacuuming the floors and scrubbing the toilets. Consequently, the daughter has no respect for her mother and it is constantly on display throughout the film. When the daughter decides she needs to change her life, she makes a plan to lose her reputation as a good girl, along with her virginity.
Make a Better Film
There's plenty of star-power in this film: Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine, Patricia Arquette, and even Disney star Raini Rodriguez. The problem is the story. It's touted as an "inspiring" story, but I found nothing inspiring about it. A mother neglects her daughter for her married boyfriend. The married boyfriend neglects his son for his house cleaner. A daughter decides that the only way to move into adulthood is to lose her virginity.
Where is the influence for good in this story? Every character in the film is looking out for him- or herself, with the small exception of the English teacher who introduces the coming-of-age concept that starts the ball rolling. But even the teacher misses the obvious signs of troubling change.
There's really nothing redeeming or inspiring about this film. The young girl does change her mind at a critical moment, but not for any particular reason that we can see other than she's scared. The mother does do something to change her situation, but she's forced into it and it's almost too little too late. The "redemption" happens in the last fifteen minutes, but there's very little lead-up to it.
GIRL IN PROGRESS is rated PG-13 for sexual themes, language, and alcoholic use.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Angela previewed GIRL IN PROGRESS.