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'Hick' review: Familiar faces killing time

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

May 24, 2012

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*1/2 (out of four)

Meetings between a troubled child and the fairy godmother who lends a hand don’t get much more woeful than sassy, redheaded Glenda (Blake Lively) nearly urinating on 13-year-old Luli (Chloe Grace Moretz of “Dark Shadows” and “Hugo”) as the young girl lies in a ditch on the side of the road.

With the Smith & Wesson .45 she received for her birthday, Luli has left her drunken mother (Juliette Lewis) behind in Nebraska and set off for Las Vegas, where she hopes to discover a world of excitement and opportunity. Or at least a sugar daddy. Written by Andrea Portes from her novel, “Hick” depicts a rambling, contrived society that teeters on the edge of pedophilia as if it were a cautionary tale about a harsh, confusing world of possessiveness and hidden agendas.

Featuring Eddie Redmayne (“My Week with Marilyn”) as an inconsistent shadeball and bit parts for Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin (“Scream 4”) and Anson Mount (“Hell on Wheels,” “Safe”), “Hick” populates itself with thinly drawn characters played by pros expected to carry the load while the script naps.

Too bad the story can’t decide if it’s a fantasy or a nightmare, allowing Luli to learn the value of street smarts but protecting her from any consequences of her actions. This nasty movie recognizes that kids can’t expect the grass to be greener but comes too close to suggesting that you can expect others to mow your lawn.

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mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais