Monday, July 18, 2011
Cyberbully is ABC Family's newest original movie. It stars Emily Osment as Taylor Hillridge, a girl who, on her seventeenth birthday, receives a laptop from her mom. Excited about her new independence, her naive ways lead her to become a victim of online bullying.
I personally think it's great to spread the message about this epidemic, but honestly. this movie did not make the cut.
Warning: Spoilers below! And you may not understand it if you haven't seen it.
Let's start at the beginning. I know what you're thinking: what kind of teenager doesn't have a life online? Apparently, Taylor Hillridge. But hey, it's not her fault; her mom IS really overprotective.
Anyway, Taylor makes an account on a social networking site called Cliquesters. (? I'm not really sure what the website was.) As she is setting up her profile-and I can't help but scoff at how unrealistic this is-Scott Ozsik (Jon Mclaren) sends a friend request. It's unrealistic because she hasn't even finished setting up the account and yet someone has already managed to search for her and is able to send a request.
Later, Taylor is telling her friends Samantha Caldone (Kay Panabaker) and Cheyenne Mortenson (Meaghan Rath) how happy she is because Scott sent her thirteen (THIRTEEN!) messages.
Things take a turn for the worse, however, when her account get hacked by her brother and rumors start flying around saying nasty things about her. And just when she thinks she has someone on her side, particularly a guy named James Petitious she met online, he starts a rumor that she slept with him and gave him "the clap". One of my favorite comments is, "Don't breath around her, you'll get infected!" Even Scott is freaked out and stops messaging her. Later, we find out that Samantha is behind the "James" profile.
It's funny how obsessively Taylor checks her page and how overly dramatic she tosses and slams her laptop. It's also funny how "everyone" at school "believes" the rumors Lindsay Fordyce (Nastassia Markiewicz), the popular girl and evil villain in this movie, is spreading about her. It's funny because it's not true. (More on this later...)
Also, Samantha sticks by Taylor even though Cheyenne doesn't want to be seen with her. I don't really blame Cheyenne though, because she just doesn't want to get involved. Soon though, Samantha is fed up with Taylor and her obsession with Scott "I'm worried about Scott, what hasn't he messaged me...blah, blah, blah" and ditches their friendship too.
Okay, so I can't even begin to describe how badly put together this movie is. In this scene, Taylor posts a suicide video, telling everyone goodbye before she dies. Her plan, however, is flawed because she waits too long after posting the video to actually commit suicide. Samantha finds the video and immediately calls Kris, Taylor's mom (Kelly Rowan), who apparently calls the paramedic too. If Taylor really wanted to die, she would've been dead by now, but she isn't. Instead, Samantha busts into her house and finds Taylor struggling to open the bottle of pills. (Suicide 101 Taylor: lock the door) Favorite line: "I can't get the cap off!" The scene ends with Taylor freaking out in her mother's arms because the pills had spilled on the floor. What a letdown. Taylor should have been found blacked out on the bathroom floor with the paramedic trying to save her; I mean, isn't that why they're there? At the very least they should've caught her just about to pop those pills into her mouth. Obviously the struggle of opening the bottle of pills was deliberately made so that the audience could have comic relief, but I think that the movie would've been better if it was more dark, less family friendly. And that goes for the entire movie.
She wakes up in a hospital bed all sedated like a mental patient, and at home, she is forced to take mild tranquilizer pills until she is better. Samantha feels really guilty because she practically caused all this.
In the scene where Kris drops Taylor off at the group therapy session, watch Kris as she sits in the car and cries after Taylor leaves. Let me set up the scene, imagine her sitting at the dinner table eating with her friend. When her face is buried in her hands, imagine that friend telling a funny joke. When she looks back up and and starts to choke on her tears, imagine her choking on her food from her laughter. Just saying.
Another unrealistic event: Taylor's turnaround. Actually, it's possible, but don't you think having her resist a while longer would make for a way better plot? (Now here's my idea: she resists the help and attempts to commit suicide again, but this time getting farther along than her last attempt. Now, after her actions, she is put under lock down, suicide watch, and forced to attend therapy to which she reluctantly, but begins to, see the bright side.)
In the movie, she instantly realizes that she's not alone and DOESN'T want to kill herself,which in my opinion, make her the stupidest person ever. It seems to me that Taylor's recovery is just too good to be true.
So, I like the twist in Taylor and Samantha's relationship. It turns out that she was the one behind the fake "James" account, although we already knew that for some time now. It realistically shows how you may have had reasons that made sense at the time, but cyber bullying is never okay. Its helpful to get the bully's point of view too, and the remorse one might feel if the victim you had been harassing was pushed too far.This part of the story could be improved though, by going deeper into Samantha's thoughts and motives when she poses as James, giving us viewers more of a back story.
It's great that Kris gets so involved with her daughter's problems. She talks to the school, the school board, the police, state legislation, and supports her daughter when they go talk to the reporter, showing that she cares a lot about Taylor. At least the principal in this movie isn't a douche bag.I do have one concern however: who actually does that? Who, in real life, is actually this proactive? She really is a supermom. (Unlike Lindsay's dad who I wanted to punch in the face)
Okay, so after a few sessions with the support group, Taylor feels empowered enough to go back to school and stand up for herself: which means telling Lindsay off. With the help of her friends, Lindsay is run out of the cafeteria and the entire student body applauds her downfall. (Like that ever really happens in real life. Plus, I can't believe how the students cheer when Taylor makes a comeback at Lindsay, but laugh when Lindsay spits out a retorting remark.)
Finally, Kris gets a call from the reporter with good news: apparently Kris misunderstood the Senator, (Yea right, politicians... *rolls eyes*) they are working on a bill to make online bullying illegal for minors. (Yay!)
Y'know, she never shut down her account on Cliquesters....
Overall, great message, but the plot needs work. I give it a solid C.
It's 10 hours 'till bedtime; I say watch, don't wait.