Among the herd of television stars stampeding into the cast of Struck By Lightning is Christina Hendricks, officially confirmed to be involved. Hendricks’ notoriety comes from here empowered Joan Harris character on Mad Men, but her prevalence on the big screen is increasing by the minute—she already has Drive and I Don’t Know How She Does It in the can.
Harris’ character in Struck By Lightning is thus far uncomfirmed.
Struck By Lightning stars and was written by Glee’s Chris Colfer. Directing the film will be Brian Dannelly, who, like most of the cast (which, aside from Colfer and Hendricks, includes Angela Martin, Allie Grant and Sarah Hyland), comes from television: his directing credits include Weeds, The United States of Tara and Pushing Daisies.
Movies comprised of people primarily schooled in television tend to be especially creative and ambitious—the cast and team behind this film seem to be more than capable of developing an interesting, poignant and funny coming-of-age film.
Apparently, news around the Glee set doesn't travel as quickly as gossip about Santana's sexuality did through McKinley High (I am not proud of that joke). As we reported on Wednesday, Chris Colfer, who plays Glee's breakout character Kurt Hummel, will be one of several castmembers who won't be returning to the show after the end of Season 3. Finding stuff like this out through the internet is natural for fans, but one would think that the actors involved might be privy to this kind of information beforehand. However, such is apparently not the case. Chris Colfer actually found out that he would be leaving Glee from reading Twitter.
The show's creator Ryan Murphy recently tweeted that Kurt, Rachel, Finn and others would be graduating at the end of the third season, thus ending their roles on Glee. New castmembers are being brought in to play freshmen in the beginning of Season 3 and they'll be eased into the starring roles.
Colfer is very understanding about this transition. He has said that he recognizes that these characters needed, logically, to graduate eventually. Although he will be sad to leave the program that launched him to fame, he understands that this is the right artistic choice, stating in an interview with Extra, "This is home for me. But I understand that there's [a] time for a conclusion."
However, Colfer won't be hard-pressed for work. He is working on coming-of-age film called Struck By Lightning, from his own script and directed by Brian Dannelly. Colfer will star in the film, with an impressive supporting cast.
Mary (Jena Malone) -- born again at the age of 3 and an unquestioning bible thumper ever since -- is about to start her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School and God is smiling on her. She and her pretty devout friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) are popular she has a handsome boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) and she religiously rocks out at Christian concerts. The first sign of trouble is when ice-skating chastity embracing Dean tells Mary he thinks he's gay. Determined to bring her man back to the Lord Mary makes a deal with Jesus: She'll seduce Dean if the Lamb of God then restores her "emotional" and "spiritual" virginity. Cut to a few weeks later: Dean-o's been packed off to sexuality rehab Mary can't keep her breakfast down and all of a sudden Jesus is looking a lot less like a pal and a lot more like a used car salesman. With the core of her faith shrinking as her belly is expanding Mary sees her peers in a whole new light -- "perfect" Hilary Faye has plenty of flaws and "bad girl" Cassandra (Eva Amurri) might not be the spawn of Satan after all. All of which helps Mary and company discover what being a Christian really means -- just in time for prom!
The cast of Saved! is almost as eclectic a mix as a real high school class. Malone Amurri (Susan Sarandon's daughter) Patrick Fugit (as alterna-cutie skateboarder Patrick) and Heather Matarazzo (as blunt hanger-on Tia) are all card-carrying members of the Hip Indie Actors club while Moore and Macaulay Culkin (as Hilary Faye's wheelchair-bound brother Roland) come from the Much-Mocked Pop Culture Icon school. All acquit themselves admirably with Moore and Amurri as particular standouts. Moore has Hilary Faye's mix of smug self-entitlement and hollow concern nailed: This is one pop tart who knows how to play a sugar-coated bitch. Her showy piousness is particularly amusing when you contrast it with her PAX-worthy performance as a doomed preacher's daughter in A Walk to Remember. Playing American Eagle's token Jewish student Amurri expertly offers glimpses of tough-talking Cassandra's inner vulnerability and warm heart; her scenes with Culkin's wryly cynical Roland are some of the movie's best. Malone is occasionally a bit tepid but her sparks with Fugit seem real. The token adult actors -- Mary-Louise Parker as Mary's trashy widowed mother Lillian and Martin Donovan as principal Pastor Skip (whose insecurity almost overwhelms his own faith) -- also turn in strong performances.
Saved! made its debut at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and it's not hard to see why: Brian Dannelly's film has "indie" written all over it. Dannelly deserves credit for pushing the envelope as far as he has -- suffice it to say that Saved! probably won't go over so well in the heartland (or even the suburbs) -- but the film isn't a total success. Its mix of dark humor and sincere sentiment is a bit jarring; just when you're guffawing at Dannelly's send-up of "hip Christianity" in the form of Pastor Skip's unbelievably lame attempts to connect with his young flock ("let's get our Christ on!") or Hilary Faye's forceful attempts to perform a drive-by saving on the wayward Mary you land with a bump as Mary and her mom share a quiet moment or Patrick and his dad exchange some tense words. It's obvious that Dannelly didn't want Saved! to be dismissed as mere parody but the film strays too far into spoof territory to be a drama and vice versa.