“Glee” thesp Chris Colfer plays another precociously creative and snark-slinging high schooler in “Struck by Lightning,” a mediocre coming-of-age indie written, “Running With Scissors”-style, by the young actor. Beginning with the titular demise of Colfer’s extracurricularly overextended teen, who narrates a film-long flashback from beyond the grave, the mostly limp comedy gets periodically shocked back to life by grownups including Allison Janney as pill-popping Mom, Dermot Mulroney as delinquent Dad and Christina Hendricks as Dad’s knocked-up g.f. Lacking originality and sufficient humor, the pic won’t get the good grades from festgoing gatekeepers that would enable graduation to theatrical.Stuck in Clover (pop. 9,525), 17-year-old aspiring journalist Carson Phillips (Colfer) eventually hits on a scheme to improve his odds of acceptance into his dream school: He’ll dig up dirt on classmates and blackmail them into writing for the high-school literary mag in order to impress college admissions folks. Alas, these would-be screwball shenanigans appear tired or implausible or both, and there’s not enough satire in the screenplay for director Brian Dannelly to pull off something as edgy as his 2004 indie “Saved!” Tech credits earn a C-plus.
A Permut Presentations production. (International sales: ICM, Los Angeles.) Produced by David Permut, Roberto Aguire, Mia Chang. Executive producers, Jason Michael Berman, Chris Colfer, Glenn Rigberg, Lawrence Kopeikin. Co-producers, Monica Aguirre, Diez Barroso, Steve Longi, Mark Moran. Directed by Brian Dannelly. Screenplay, Chris Colfer.
Camera (color, HD), Bobby Bukowski; editor, Tia Nolan; music, Jake Monaco; production designer, Linda Burton; set decorator, Melisa Jusufi; costume designer, Wendy Chuck. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight), April 23, 2012. Running time: 84 MIN.
Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Hyland, Rebel Wilson, Polly Bergen, Allie Grant, Ashley Richards, Carter Jenkins, Brad William Henke, Angela Kinsey, Robbie Amell, Charlie Finn.