Here we go again, you guys: Another day, another terrible piece of television trying to steal tons of your free time. While you were off watching respectable things like Breaking Bad or Teen Choice 2011 (haha j/k), ABC Family was launching a first strike directly into your living room in the hopes of destroying a chunk of your weekend (and some of your sanity). But we here at TV.com consider ourselves your first line of defense—because guess what? WE'LL WATCH IT FOR YOU.
This week's selection contains neither dragons nor Danny Glover, but it DOES take place in a world so steeped in fantasy that it bears almost no relation to anything that has ever happened or people who have ever existed!
ABC Family's Teen Spirit is an unholy hybrid of Mean Girls and She's All That with a generous dose of just about every other teen movie ever made. Plus, I don't know, Ghost Dad? It's kind of hard to count just how many different movies Teen Spirit ripped off, but let's just say it ripped off a gross of movies. A GROSS.
The most notable aspect of the film was that at no point did it make ANY SENSE WHATSOEVER. It's about teenagers in high school, but I'm guessing the writers were home-schooled and are now 80 years old and only gained the vaguest sense of what high school was like by watching other movies about it? Honestly, this thing was just super confusing, lazy, insanely unfunny, and incredibly boring. But it DID feature cast members from Pretty Little Liars, Make It or Break It, and pretty much all other ABC Family shows, in case that's your thing. Or maybe you're just really completionist when it comes to the oeuvre of Chris Zylka? There are worse things to be! Anyway, this movie did have some highlights, is what I'm saying. See if you can spot 'em!
This was the kind of movie that preferred TELLING rather than showing, especially with a voiceover by TIM GUNN. So yeah, "These are the popular girls, etc."
You could tell this was a believable world because the only thing these girls discussed was their own popularity. No wonder they were considered cool! That is the coolest way to be, no diggity dawg.
Then we met a group of "misfits" who Tim Gunn informed us were the least-popular students in the school. Except they made a Claymation web series that was apparently popular amongst the students? See, it was MINUTE TWO and this thing was already confusing.
Here's what the "ugly" chick looked like. You can tell she was ugly because she had braids and also wore plaid. "Kill yourselves, girls." —Teen Spirit.
As obviously genuinely cool as these kids were to normal human beings like you and me, the one thing they needed to work on was the concept of Claymation. For instance, if it's Claymation, you do not actually need to blow things up in real time. You also don't need to use clay that takes on the consistency of strawberry yogurt during said needless explosions.
See what I'm saying? Oh well. Filmmaking!
I bet everyone was eagerly anticipating the installment of Pig Tales in which the pig listens to an iPod and then explodes.
But WHOOPS! There was only so much wall space and in this school all of it was needed by main mean girl Amber and her quest to electioneer herself into the role of Prom Queen. Because what? Posters for prom queen? I may have gone to high school many centuries ago, but I don't recall there being an actual campaign behind the prom queen competition. Oh well. What do I know?
Our hero Lisa was very musically talented, which she demonstrated when she was scoring the Pig Tales episode using her keyboard on the "banjo" setting. Genius!
But then: TROUBLE.
That's right, the mean girls kicked them out of the weird band room (with unattended thousand-dollar instruments) so that they could fill out fake ballots for the prom queen election. Makes tons of sense. Almost TOO MUCH sense, you know?
But then we got a glimpse into Amber's home life:
Amber had it tough, you guys! Sure, she might've lived in a mansion on a yacht harbor, but her mom was like a businesswoman who didn't even respect Amber's popularity! Plus her little sister was all—whatever, not sure. Point is, even clowns cry sometimes, even when they have diamond encrusted hoop earrings.
Lisa had issues of her own, including/especially loving parents who weirdly insisted she wear her mother's old prom dress. Also, she was attending her prom ALONE? Does that happen?
Anyway, so of course Lisa just sat in her car writing her Juiliard essay. Might as well!
The other mean girls were being super secretive about their ballot-stuffing. Honestly, at this point it was clear that nobody in the school gave a damn about the prom queen election. It made Amber seem even sadder.
For some reason that made no sense Amber insisted that her date park on the sidewalk and back his car into a high voltage power converter? So began a ridiculous domino effect right out of the Final Destination films. Because, you know when power shorts out, all of the wires in the vicinity always snap off and thrash about wildly.
I think you can guess what happened next:
So suddenly Amber was in the afterlife and it looked like a nail salon, plus St. Peter was played by a HOMOSEXUAL. Hi, Tim Gunn! Look, I don't hate Tim Gunn or his evidently paltry bank account, but it's hard to describe his participation in this film as anything other than sad. As Nina Garcia would say, I question his taste level.
So Tim Gunn basically told Amber that in order to get into heaven she had to turn the school's least-popular student into the prom queen in one week. Keep in mind he shows her a PHOTO of Lisa, an important fact to keep in mind for later. First off, WHY is the Lord in Heaven suddenly endorsing the merit of high school popularity? Furthermore, why is a perfectly normal and cool girl like Lisa getting dragged into Amber's redemption ordeal? Anyway, this whole scenario was reprehensibly ludicrous, not least because the angels in heaven use glitter-covered iPads to sort out the afterlife.
Anyway, back on earth her school was still dealing with Amber's death. FIRST by rescheduling a makeup prom for the following weekend (OBVIOUSLY), but also by throwing a sparsely attended memorial in the gym:
After everyone burned Amber's reputation for like ten minutes (seriously it was like they were all playing The Dozens in there), Lisa finally looked up from her homework and SAW Amber. So began the creakiest plot device in TV movie history: the ghost you are constantly caught speaking to that nobody else can see!
See, it's funny because people think you're crazy! Actually the only funny thing about this device was that in this world not that many people noticed or cared that Lisa would occasionally yell into thin air for no reason. Fine, it's just a low-IQ kind of town I guess.
Conversation and conflict. Seemed like Lisa didn't necessarily WANT to be popular. Fair enough! Being popular in this world was hard—wearing stilettos to school and constantly discussing your own popularity just seemed so needlessly complicated anyway. To her credit, Lisa took the "seeing ghosts" thing like a champ, treating it like a minor annoyance rather than something that would cause her to seek MENTAL HELP.
Amber's friend Selena was a little more concerned. Selena couldn't see Amber's ghost but she KNEW something was up. For some reason. I don't know why this was a plot thread. I don't have all the answers.
Oh, but then Lisa suddenly realized that popularity might help her in one way: Boning Chris Zylka.
The Chris Zylka character was supposed to be some corny jock, I guess? Except he was a fan of her pig videos, and complimented her on them and also seemed to think she was attractive just the way she was. Total dirtbag, right?
At some point after that it suddenly occurred to Amber that she could haunt her own family if she wanted. Her sister was still all sad even though Amber had been dead well over three days already. Plus her mom was all bummed because Amber's college acceptances had come in the mail and apparently Amber wasn't as dumb as she'd thought? Great mom!
Lisa sang in the shower and she had a Katy Perry-style melodic bray. Totally wasn't gonna come into play later.
Uh-oh, I smell a makeover! At this point Amber realized she could also change clothes. JUST IN TIME for a montage!
It was hilarious how, on her FIRST-VER outing with her new ghost mentor, Lisa was already getting hassled by her old friends for ditching them. RELAX, old friends. You can't rush a makeover montage. Not when there are bulky hair extensions to be installed.
Never has a teenage girl looked so thrilled to have 25 pounds of weight added to her head. Plus she looked way old, like a more mature Valerie Bertinelli.
But the hair extensions did the trick, because almost immediately Lisa was pulling a bitch face for no reason.
Amber coached Lisa into talking to a "Zac Efron lookalike" (LOL), but Lisa ruined it by openly talking to the ghost for half the conversation, which seemingly weirded the dude out. Fair enough!
Next up: Making her first appearance at school!
Lisa had concerns about her makeover perhaps being TOO effective? Settle down, Lisa. Anyway, Amber then POSSESSED her, and the two of them FOUGHT over Lisa's body. Whenever each of them talked, the actress would look in different directions like an absolute nutbag.
But pretty soon she was strutting up and down the hallway like a supermodel. And there you have it, this movie's wish fulfillment was FULFILLED.
But WHOOPS! The other mean girls were staging a prom queen campaign of their own, plus one of them was dating Chris Zylka now. PLOT COMPLICATIONS!
Amber spied on her former friends, who were talking about a party they were throwing in order to bring in the votes.
Meanwhile Lisa's former best friend got in touch with her Wiccan aunt and they started doing spells or something? Who knows.
Amber and Lisa hacked a computer in the library and sent a mass email to "ALL COOL PEOPLE" and tricked everyone into showing up at their enemy's home a night early. COOL REVENGE!
BUT ALSO they threw a party at Lisa's house and sent a mass text inviting everyone there instead. I wonder if anyone put two and two together about the original email hoax? I guess we'll never know.
Anyway, Lisa had more important things to worry about:
Yep, another one of those moments where a girl grabs the microphone, derails the party, and I guess impresses a guy? Whatever, Teen Spirit. If that EVER happened at a party I was attending, I'd be at Denny's within ten minutes. Oh well, it worked on Chris Zylka!
The next day at school was fun. Lisa was officially a man-stealing, big-haired robotron and she had NO COMPLAINTS. Oh but guess who really hated her then?
To her former friends' credit, Lisa hadn't even invited them to her party. Plus she was kinda assy about the whole thing and didn't even apologize.
But again, she had priorities:
Amber was pretty stoked about how things were going. But all that changed like ten minutes later!
First Lisa didn't seem very sorry to have gotten her friend in trouble, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, she disingenuously complimented Amber's jeans—and then suddenly Amber decided that she must STOP LISA? It was seriously the quickest reversal in bad teen TV movie history!
Then Amber went home and intervened in some bizarre standoff between her mom and her sister which was centered on the mom's refusal to acknowledge the sister in any way? So weird. Anyway, Amber healed them both through her ghostly touch.
Then Selena and her bruja aunt randomly conjured Amber and came to an agreement that Lisa was a bitch now.
Okay, great. So then Amber assured her she would fix things, but that apparently meant becoming the most reprehensible c*ckblocking phantasm that had ever lived/died.
Lisa definitely didn't handle it very well, just cavalierly shouting at thin air in front of Chris Zylka.
He kind of went with it for a minute, but then I guess he got a little turned off when Lisa became possessed by Amber and told him to scram.
Oh, and then "for her own good" Amber made Lisa drive way out of town and then threw away her car keys, all so she would miss the prom altogether? WHAT? And she was all, "I don't need to go heaven THAT MUCH." Again, WHAT? What was going on here? This movie didn't make sense before, but at this point it reached a whole new level of not making sense.
Lisa learned a tough lesson about having friends who won't pick you up from the boonies a couple hours before a makeup prom.
Luckily her old friends came and got her, but not without hassling her a ton and telling her off.
Meanwhile Amber boarded a shuttle bus to Hell. WHY? This movie.
Lisa rolled up at her prom and spilled her guts to her principal, or whoever that guy was, and he was like, cool but now you can't be prom queen. Good plan, Lisa!
But then, you know how these things go. Speeches and whatnot:
Whew! Crisis averted, some random dude is now Prom King based on an impromptu show of hands. Again, let me go back to my main theory about these people not giving a damn about prom elections. Sort of gives you hope for the future, you know?
Amber got a last-minute reprieve because I guess the unpopular dude becoming Prom King was the same thing as Lisa becoming Prom Queen? Remember, THE LORD gave Amber the assignment to remake LISA, complete with a photograph of Lisa. So basically Amber DISOBEYED the Lord. Anyway, yay?
A tearful, emotional reunion ensued, along with the reappearance of a random dude we met once:
(Sigh.) Whatever, it's almost over.
Whoops! I smell a sequel! Just kidding, that's just the smell of melted hair extensions.
So there you have it. This thing was not-awful on Opposite Day! Aren't you glad that WE WATCHED IT FOR YOU?
... How many teens were hilariously electrocuted at your prom?
... What is your favorite Bible passage about teen popularity?
... Chris Zylka, am I right?
... What did I miss on the Teen Choice Awards??
+ We Watched It For You: SyFy's Age of Dragons