Undiscovered is a particular brand of bad that compels the viewer's mind to drift off and ponder: ''Would this film have ever gotten made if the pretty-somethings weren't there to round out its cast?'' Sadly, it'll only take a few seconds to arrive at the obvious answer.
Luke (Steven Strait) and Brier (Pell James) first cross paths on a New York City subway before the doors shut on their instant attraction to one another. Of course, it is immediately and abundantly clear that they will naturally meet up again before long, but where and how? The answers: L.A. and, well, it's complicated. Each having forgotten about the other, Brier, a top model in NYC, decides she needs a change of scenery and tells her agent (Carrie Fisher, clearly in it for the paycheck) she's heading out to L.A. to pursue acting, while Luke and his brother, Euan (Kip Pardue) decide to move to the West Coast as well. Once there, Brier befriends Clea (Ashlee Simpson), and, on her first night in town, takes Brier to a local dive bar where Luke works as a struggling ''musician.'' Wow, that's some coincidence. There is an instant re-connection between Luke and Brier, but she refuses to get involved with musicians since her rock-star ex mistreated her. Instead, she shifts her focus on generating buzz for Luke. Eventually, Luke gets the big recording contract, becomes the rock-star jerk he'd swore he'd never become and loses it all. But all is well when Brier decides she can no longer resist Luke's ballads and Metallica-guitarist-circa-'85 hair.
The theme of Undiscovered could apply to its cast. Each of the four leads are on the cusp of being on the cusp, and certainly they hope this movie will take them one step closer. For James, that might happen. She is a natural on screen and gives a breakthrough performance as the comely Brier. Strait is also a relative newcomer. After turning his debut performance in this summer's Sky High, he holds his own in Undiscovered but seems to be relegated to taking his shirt off to make the teenyboppers swoon. Finally, there's Simpson, who is also making her major-role debut. It's awkward to see her on-screen, and, yes, subconsciously, you wait for her to make a noticeable mistake (or butcher a voice-over due to acid reflux). Of course, it doesn't happen; she moves along pretty smoothly but is at times subjected to dialogue that seems beyond her, especially when she has to words big words such as ''banter.'' And certainly it's not her fault when she describes Luke--a musician best left struggling--as ''a cross between Jeff Buckley and Elvis Costello.'' That's just someone else's words she reciting.
Prolific music-video director Meiert Avis is making his feature film directorial debut with Undiscovered--and his obvious greenness shows. At times, the film is more like a music video, surrounded by a weak storyline, than a cohesive film. His expertise in the rather linear realm of music videos doesn't exactly qualify him for the complexities of a 90-minute film, contrived and straightforward as his debut may be. Avis tries to employ every possible clichéd obstacle for the characters to overcome--which reeks of inexperience but could also be the screenwriter's fault. No doubt Avis feels at home with newcomers such as Strait and Simpson, who--for all intents and purposes--sing and act, but the plethora of singing scenes feel forced. That is, forced into the script to showcase the soundtrack when the movie goes undiscovered at the box office.
Undiscovered is like a MTV show the studio execs thought was too rich for the channel. They were wrong--dead wrong.