Movie Review: ‘Struck by Lightning’

In Theaters and On Demand

“Struck by Lightning,” written by Chris Colfer, directed by Brian Dannelly, 84 minutes, rated PG-13.

Chris Colfer, who at 22 has carved out his legacy in pop culture as “Glee’s” Kurt Hummel, tests his boundaries with “Struck by Lightning,” the actor’s first leading role since his breakthrough, and his debut as a screenwriter.

In “Struck by Lightning,” Colfer trades in his pop songs and mashups for pen and paper as Carson Phillips, a 17-year-old student journalist who aspires to study at Northwestern and one day become an editor at The New Yorker. Carson has drive, wit and sarcasm, a lethal cocktail in the halls of his small-town high school. To his classmates, Carson is merely a contrarian who clashes with his peers because he looks down on them from his tower of enlightenment. Needless to say, he is not very popular.

In an attempt to pad his college resume, Carson starts up a literary magazine at the school. Garnering no interest from his classmates, the young writer digs up dirt on them to use as blackmail, forcing all of them to submit a piece of writing for his own gain. Carson’s fellow students, who were once annoyed with his antics, find a new level of contempt for him with his latest stunt.

“Struck by Lightning” is the kind of by-the-numbers coming-of-age story that we’ve seen before, because every writer has at least one dwelling somewhere inside them. Colfer’s story, however, feels more personal, and less removed from most iterations of the formula because, unlike a lot of Hollywood screenwriters, he’s only 22 years old. Being so close in age to his teenage characters gives Colfer the ability to write for them, as Carson calls out his classmates with fire and honesty, making you realize just how personal this story is to Colfer.

Rebel Wilson ( “Bridesmaids,” “Pitch Perfect”), who has become the strangest kind of “It Girl” I’ve ever seen come through Hollywood, lends her unique sense of humor to the film, adding a shot of character to a supporting cast admittedly full of high school cliches.

When watching a show like “Glee,” which has characters who are so distinct, and roles that are so well defined, it makes you wonder if there is life for these actors beyond the series. Despite its flaws, “Struck by Lightning” proves that for Colfer, there certainly will be. The question for Colfer now is which career will he pursue more fiercely: Acting or writing?

Grade: B-

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