Kids today. They live in a technological world not even fathomable a decade ago.
High school senior Monica (Laura Marano) crowd sources everything from what she should wear to prom to whom she should date. She’s a tech wizard who turns every little detail of her life into an online poll. She’s currently tracking the minute-by-minute results of her campaign to be prom queen. Her entire life is one big technological open book.
On the eve of big dance, Monica gets a little too enthusiastic, tries out a bunch of different hairstyles and goes heavy on the styling products. She wakes up with a disastrous coif which sets off a day full of increasingly ridiculous shenanigans.
Of course, Monica could just take a shower to try to fix her hair. But then the movie would only be about five minutes long. Instead, she meets Liz (Leigh-Allyn Baker), a former police officer tracking down a stolen necklace, a necklace Monica just happened to buy at a pawn shop. Monica doesn’t have her driver’s license yet and makes a deal with Liz — she will give her the necklace if Liz takes her shopping.
Monica and Liz hit the mall so Monica can get a new prom dress (hers melted), get new shoes (hers broke) and get her hair fixed. There’s a bunch of fun jabs at modern society from how snooty some hair salons can be to how ridiculous it is to pay $540 for sunglasses.
The movie’s big bad is international jewel thief Pierce (Christian Campbell), who wants his stolen necklace back. Campbell sports a British accent and comes across as Disney’s version of James Bond. He’s played more for laughs and there’s never a question about who will triumph by the end of the movie.
Marano and Baker, who also serves as executive producer on the movie, are both popular Disney Channel stars. Marano headlines Austin & Ally and Baker was the mom in Good Luck Charlie. The pair play well off each other and for a movie on a network aimed at tweens, Liz is the more interesting character. Baker brings just the right amount of humor to the role.
Liz speaks for every adult mystified by today’s adolescents. “Get some haircuts all of you, you look ridiculous,” she tells a bunch of overly styled boys while admonishing others that they’re wearing jeans that make them look silly. She can’t believe that Monica doesn’t know who Marlon Brando is and thinks it’s terrifying that she has an app on her phone that lets people know where she is at all times.
While she over delivers some lines, Marano, only 19 in real life, actually looks like she could be a teenager. Monica is refreshingly age-appropriate. In a TV landscape where teens can be up to all sorts of no good, the biggest scandal in Bad Hair Day is that Monica’s boyfriend tells her he can’t spend the day with her because he’s volunteering. But he’s actually out to lunch with another girl — out to lunch, not in bed with. If I had a 12-year-old, I’d much prefer her to watch Bad Hair Day then, say, Pretty Little Liars.
Of course since this is a Disney production, Monica has no mom. Her mom left when she was only three years old and it’s just Monica and her dad (Alain Goulem). Being abandoned by her mom has turned Monica into a perpetual pleaser. “Why is it so hard for you to make a choice on your own,” Liz wonders. “I could be a disappointment. People might not want to be around me,” Monica tells her.
While many plot points are completely outrageous (particularly Monica’s reaction to a loved one being placed in grave danger) and the movie is decidedly goofy, it never gets too slapsticky. Sure, it’s utterly ridiculous that Monica and Liz would bond so much in just one day, but their emotions are genuine. The plot won’t offer any big surprises (take a wild guess at who ends up being prom queen), but the movie is entertaining nevertheless. The whole thing plays out like a junior version of Thelma & Louise albeit with a much, much happier ending.
The message in the end is to be true to yourself and not worry so much about what other people think. Not a bad lesson for us all.