×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘After the Ball’

Portia Doubleday stars in a frothy teen comedy as unobjectionable as it is unmemorable.

With:
Portia Doubleday, Marc-Andre Grondin, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Colin Mochrie, Anna Hopkins, Natalie Krill, Mimi Kuzyk, Carlo Rota, David Michael.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3717016/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_4

As frothy, lightweight and insubstantial as a soap bubble, Sean Garrity’s teen comedy “After the Ball” stitches together stray elements of “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Cinderella” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” with a certain what-the-hell haphazardness that might have been endearing if it weren’t so exhausting. Starring Portia Doubleday as a fashion kingpin’s daughter who goes undercover as a male designer to thwart her evil stepmother and stepsisters, this basic-cable-quality farce is as unobjectionable as it is unmemorable, and ought to provide youngsters a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time on VOD.

Introduced at her design-school graduation, Kate Kassell (Doubleday) is the only daughter of powerful Montreal fashion magnate Lee Kassell (Chris Noth), whose eponymous company has recently fallen on hard times, knocking off popular designs rather than creating their own. Unable to land a position on her own merit thanks to her family’s bad reputation, Kate takes up her father’s offer of a job with the family business, even though the two have become estranged over the last few years.

Were “After the Ball” a more serious affair, its heroine’s essential contradictions might prove distracting. For one, even though she’s depicted as a budding design genius who grew up surrounded by haute couture, Kate shows up to work wearing dowdy overalls and can hardly change her own clothes — much less open a door, or stroll down an unobstructed walkway — without suffering some sort of pratfall. (These gags only made sense in “Prada” because the protagonist was so openly uninterested in fashion.) But more importantly, it’s hard to cast the nepotistically recruited heiress to a fashion empire as an underdog.

To solve that problem, enter Kate’s stepmother Elise (Lauren Holly), who has taken to running the Kassell company during Kate’s father’s frequent absences. Full of resentment toward our heroine for no explained reason, Elise conspires with her own daughters to drive Kate out of the company, which they eventually do by framing Kate for leaking designs to Kassell’s sniveling rival (Colin Mochrie).

As she’s licking her wounds later that night, Kate’s godmother (Mimi Kuzyk) devises a plan: Taking on the name Nate Ganymede (presumably a reference to Shakespeare rather than Greek mythology, as the subtextual implications of the latter would be horrifying), Kate will don a prosthetic nose, glasses and glued-on facial hair to rejoin the company as a man. The disguise allows Kate to reinvent herself as a dynamic, assertive young rogue — albeit one who bears an occasional nagging resemblance to Steve Urkel — and she immediately becomes her father’s star apprentice, as well as new buddies with a hunky shoe designer (Marc-Andre Grondin) who had his eye on Kate earlier.

The rest of the film goes exactly where one imagines it will, somewhat laboriously so in the later going. And considering the plot is blatantly lifted from so many obvious sources, there’s certainly some irony in its celebration of a forward-thinking visionary who shakes up a derivative company. But nothing here is remotely offensive — the script from Kate Melville and Jason Sherman gets in a few good zingers; Doubleday is perfectly likable in the lead role; and Anna Hopkins and Natalie Krill nearly steal the show as the intellectually challenged wicked stepsisters.

Tech credits are all fully functional.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'After the Ball'

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, April 23, 2015. Running time: 102 MIN.

Production: A Freestyle Releasing release of a Myriad Pictures, Pacific Northwest Pictures presentation of a Martinelli Films, Don Carmody Prods., Jane Silverstone-Segal Prods. production. Produced by Don Carmody, Gabriella Martinelli, Robin Crumley, Jane Silverstone-Segal. Executive producers, Kirk D’Amico, Emily Alden, Kevin Forester, Silverstone-Segal.

Crew: Directed by Sean Garrity. Screenplay, Jason Sherman, Kate Melville. Camera (color), Pierre Gill; editor, Erin Deck; music, Ari Posner; production designer, Patricia Christie; costume designer, Mario Davignon; sound, Arnaud Derimay; re-recording mixers, Keith Elliott, Rudy Michael; assistant director, Erik Ajduk.

With: Portia Doubleday, Marc-Andre Grondin, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Colin Mochrie, Anna Hopkins, Natalie Krill, Mimi Kuzyk, Carlo Rota, David Michael.

More Film

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

  • Jonathan Van NessLos Angeles Beautycon, Portrait

    Jonathan Van Ness Reveals HIV Diagnosis, Former Drug Addiction

    “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness is getting vulnerable in his new memoir “Over the Top.” In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older [...]

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content