Careful What You Wish For
by Glenn Lovell
In the mood for a teen twist on a noir-ish James Cain mystery, with more than a pinch of T&A for spice?
You could do worse than “Careful What You Wish For,” starring a ripped Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers band as a kid who’s all-too-easily drawn into a deadly scheme the rest of us see brewing a mile off.
This mash-up of Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity” and Roman Polanski’s “Knife in the Water” is hardly what you’d call original — we guessed the ending about 15 minutes in — but it still held our attention thanks to the fluid camera work by Holland’s Rogier Stoffers (“School of Rock”) and an especially good-looking cast.
Like most kids tied to their parents for one last summer, Doug (Jonas) doesn’t hold out much hope for his time at Lake Lure, a tony resort in the vicinity of Cape Fear, North Carolina. (For “Lolita,” Kubrick teased with the somewhat more salacious Camp Climax.)
Not to worry. Things look up when self-made entrepreneur Elliott Harper (Dermot Mulroney) and his willowy child bride Lena (Isabel Lucas) move in next door. Hubby hires Doug to overhaul his sailboat, but wife-y, lazing about in string bikini, has something else in mind when it comes to striping and buffing.
And before you can say “The Postman Still Rings Twice,” Doug and Lena are doing it in the boss’s bed and boat. And why not? Hubby, always conveniently out of town on business, is, according to his wife, an abusive prick.
Directed by Elizabeth Allen from a script by Chris Frisina, “Careful,” like Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity,” pours on the naughty, not-so-subtle double entendres, mostly delivered by Lucas, who looks like a young Daryl Hannah and sounds like a kittenish Melanie Griffith.
As Lena strips and showers on the pier (to the thumping, jackhammer strains of the Newton Brothers), Elliott makes sure everything is shipshape. “Not bad, eh, Doug? You check her out?” he says, catching Doug in mid-ogle. “What do you say we tag-team her – you make her look good, and I’ll fiddle with the rudder.”
Later, when Little Ms Helpless has car troubles, Doug sprints to the rescue. He, toying with the knobs: “Sometimes you just have to push in.” She: “Umm, you have a lot of experience with that?”
Yes, indeedy, we filmgoers have to be careful what we wish for. We would have liked something serpentine and sensuous, along the lines of Polanski’s “Knife in the Water” or Rene Clement’s “Purple Noon” (a 1960 adaptation of “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), but thanks to the easily duped Doug and a cop-out ending we settled for something a whole lot less demanding, the cinematic equivalent of smutty beach reading.
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR ✮✮ With Nick Jonas, Isabel Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Paul Sorvino, Kandyse McClure. Directed by Elizabeth Allen; scripted by Chris Frisina. 91 min. Rated R (for peekaboo nudity, sexual situations)