by Hope Madden
Finally, someone truly understands what it’s like to be an incredibly angry adolescent girl.
At the very least, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s film Becky understands enough to be afraid of her.
The titular 13-year-old, played with convincing charisma by Lulu Wilson, is a handful for her widowed father (Joel McHale). Still, dad has decided this is the weekend to take Becky for a getaway with his girlfriend (Amanda Brugel), and her 5-year-old (Isaiah Rockcliffe). They head to the old vacation cabin for a big talk.
He soon finds that his 13-year-old may not be the scariest thing on earth.
Or, you know what? Maybe she is.
Kevin James plays against type as a swastika-tatted up inmate, leader of a band of escapees. James may be hoping to catch the same mid-career fire Vince Vaughn has been fanning, mainly portraying the heavy in various indie thrillers. Early scenes play well, James cutting a solemnly menacing figure as he quietly organizes and orchestrates. But as the film wears on it becomes clear the actor can’t manage the sinister energy needed to really make an impression.
I’ll take this over Paul Blart, though.
Robert Maillet’s a lot of fun, though. At 6’10”, the one-time wrestler dwarfs even the gangly McHale. He’s no master thespian, but his arc creates a spectacular punctuation for Becky’s own transformation and his sheer immensity brings a little needed anxiety to the film.
The writing team, which includes Lane and Ruckus Skye of the brilliant and as-of-yet undistributed Devil to Pay (originally titled Reckoning), cheats a little with this script. Backstories, motivations and mysteries—particularly as they articulate the villainous characters—feel less undefined than lazily obscured. Between that and James’s inability to truly sell the viciousness in his character, the family’s jeopardy lacks the intensity it needs for this film to truly impress.
Wilson does not. In her hands, Becky is a fascinating character, and it is with this character that the writing team and directors score the most points. The film is bloody, angry and, even for its fairly formulaic premise, unpredictable.