Our Pledge To You

News

‘Careful What You Wish For’ tries to be hot, achieves lukewarm

Nick Jones in "Careful What You Wish For." | Starz Digital

If only strapping young Doug Martin had watched “Body Heat” at some point in his strapping young life, he wouldn’t be in the strapping young pickle he finds himself in!

Ah, these millennials. Too many of ’em think the erotic thriller was born with “Wild Things.”

Former brother-band pop idol Nick Jonas plays the aforementioned Doug Martin, and it’s a bland performance of a bland character with a bland name. “Careful What You Wish For” is aiming for lusty, lurid, B-movie titillation, but it’s not nearly as sexy nor nearly as clever as it would like to be.

Doug is a handsome, book-smart, Columbia-bound high school grad — but he’s also such a nerd and so shy around the ladies he’s a virgin. (If you think it’s a stretch for Jonas to play such a character with anything approaching believability, you would be correct. Even when he’s tilting his head to indicate shyness, he looks like he’s posing for a fan-girl website.)

The Dougster is busing tables at a restaurant in a North Carolina resort town when he’s offered the chance to make a few bucks on the side working on a boat owned by the wealthy and arrogant Elliot (Dermot Mulroney, a fine actor who can play this sort of role in his sleep).

The beautiful Isabel Lucas plays Elliot’s younger trophy wife Lena, who takes one look at Doug taking a look at her and practically swallows him up from across the room.

Here we go. There’s no way these two aren’t hooking up.

You won’t find many better looking onscreen couples than Jonas and Lucas, but they have tepid chemistry together, whether they’re between the sheets or engaged in stilted dialogue about life and love and what they’re going to do about mean ol’ Elliot.

Jonas is an OK actor and he does what he can with an underwritten part. I’m sure Lucas is a nice person and the camera certainly loves her, but her line readings show the range of an aging softball player with two bad knees.

A couple of casting notes do spice up the proceedings. Paul Sorvino is the local sheriff, a crusty good ol’ boy who isn’t above ripping up a bar owner’s speeding tickets if the owner buys a round of drinks for the house. It’s not much of a role and it’s hardly one of Sorvino’s most memorable performances, but he’s still good fun because he’s PAUL SORVINO.

I also enjoyed the work of Kandyse McClure as an investigator in a certain field. (I don’t want to say which field because that would give too much away.) The performance is actually more impressive when we learn the truth about this character and her motivations. It’s a nifty piece of acting by McClure.

In fact, “Careful What You Wish For” might have been a better film had the two leading ladies, McClure and Lucas, switched roles.

But not that much better.

★★

Starz Digital presents a film directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum and written by Chris Frisina. Running time: 91 minutes. Rated R (for some sexual content/nudity and language). Opens Friday at AMC South Barrington 30 and on demand.