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'Vampire Academy' review: Snarknado

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

12:00 AM CST, February 7, 2014

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 0.5 stars (out of four)

Bottle all the wit and attitude of “Mean Girls.” Throw that bottle into the ocean. Now try to make a sassy teen comedy about young women with more bark than bite.

That’s exactly what “Mean Girls” director Mark Waters has attempted with “Vampire Academy” (not to be mistaken for “Monsters University”), which derives its humor from timely references like Gandhi, Hot Topic and “Austin Powers.” If I laughed once more, I would have laughed once.

In an obnoxious lead performance suggesting her only comic influence is Kat Dennings, Zoey Deutch (“Ringer”) plays 17-year-old Rose, a half-human/half-vampire known as a Dhampir. Her primary task is protecting Lissa (Lucy Fry, also terrible), the likely heir to the Moroi throne who has E.T.-like healing powers. What’s a Moroi? It’s a peaceful vampire that needs protection from evil vampires known as Strigoi, who don’t seem to have an ultimate objective outside the usual world domination or whatever. Or maybe I missed that detail because of all the fun I was having listening to endless, needlessly complicated exposition.

Adapted from Richelle Mead’s popular series by Waters’ older brother Daniel—who hasn’t written a movie you’ve heard of since 1993’s “Demolition Man”—the instantly awful “Vampire Academy” piles on pathetic joke after pathetic joke that land flat because of both the content and the delivery. “Don’t you mean Queen Bee-otch?” quips Rose after someone makes a comment about the school’s queen bee. She also engages in a flirtation with her mentor Dimitri, played by an actor (Danila Kozlovsky) who seems to have watched Tommy Wiseau in “The Room” and said, “Now that’s acting!” Poor Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family” plays a nerdy girl, who you can tell is nerdy because she wears glasses. Somewhere the writers of “Not Another Teen Movie” are patting themselves on the back.

Eight years ago, “Brick” made the deviousness of high school fertile ground for an old-school detective story. You could easily make the case that teenagers are often out for blood. But the simultaneously rushed and overlong “Vampire Academy” is like the worst possible version of “Twilight” going to Hogwarts.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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