ABC Films: On “Beauty and the Briefcase” and “Cyberbully”

You can find the strangest movies on YouTube. From black and white love stories to straight to DVD films (Mary Kate and Ashley, I’m looking at you), YouTube has an oddball (yet surprisingly enjoyable) bunch of films which happen to be surprisingly… bearable to watch.

Yesterday evening, I had the ‘pleasure’ of watching two films I found on the popular video sharing site. Both films had two things in common: one, they were movies made by ABC Family, and two, they featured former Disney stars. Below is a review of both films.

“Beauty and the Briefcase” 

Hilary Duff takes on a ‘less geeky’ version of Anne Hathaway’s character in the Devil Wears Prada for Beauty and the Briefcase, a film about an up and coming writer who gets an undercover assignment for Cosmpolitan magazine that involves finding her perfect man in the business world.

Frankly, there isn’t much to like about Lane Daniels, save for a strong sense of ambition and an obvious talent for aesthetics. She may be a college graduate, but the compulsive lying and the hyper promiscuity make us wonder. Luckily, photographer best friend Joanne (or was it Joan or something), does the sidekick job particularly well, reminding us that there’s some sense of sanity in this seemingly utopian depiction of the New Yorker life. Her impulsive assumptions are another red flag.

One would think that an ABC Family film like this would present some realistic life lessons to the young adult viewer, which it does. The problem is these lessons are couched in stupid, unrealistic decisions– take for example, Lane’s obsession with her ‘perfect British man’. The lying lesson suffices, I suppose. But it doesn’t give this film enough substance.

The audience is pushed to forget with the stereotypical ‘happy ending’, something right out of a movie. A perfect reminder that none of this could ever happen in real life.

“Cyberbully”

Emily Osment takes on the role of a seemingly normal high school girl who suddenly turns suicidal after she becomes the victim of harsh online bullying on a website that is pretty much Facebook circa 2006.

Unlike the previously reviewed movie, Cyberbully deals with a more realistic issue: yet it still isn’t free of a number of unrealistic factors. Firstly, the singular incidents that push Taylor (Emily)’s friends to abandon her. If they really were her friends, how could they leave her so easily? I mean, wouldn’t they be aware that the things being posted about their friend were untrue? Or were they that scared to stand up to the four mean girls who seem to be the main culprits behind all the bullying?? [For the record, they didn’t even look mean enough]. Secondly, the confrontation scene (another ‘something-out-of-a-film’ scene).

On the other hand, the film makes up for minor questionable plot points with realistic positive messages that can clearly resonate to their late teen/ young adult market. The scenes with the teen support group give genuine ways to cope with online bullying, and the several interactions with individuals that support the lead provide firm reinforcement that help is there for those who are being bullied online. Cyberbully also presents the reality that in some states in the US, cyberbullying is still considered legal, thus leaving the audience with the mission of spreading the word against it.

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