A dramatization of a real-life California teen crime spree (previously made into a 2011 Lifetime movie of the same name), the film follows several high school girls — and one gay guy — as they “go shopping.” That's their euphemism for breaking into the homes of C-list celebrities and stealing their jewelry, clothes, cash and X-rated Polaroids.
The felonious five netted upward of $3 million before braggadocio brought them down, resulting in arrests and prison sentences. Viewers will be doubly pleased to arrive at The Bling Ring's legal phase, not only because these gals are overdue for a reality check, but because Coppola's robbery scenes quickly grow repetitive. To us, Paris Hilton's home isn't much different than Rachel Bilson's, which isn't much different than Audrina Patridge's. You've seen the fleecing of one starlet's pad, you've seen 'em all.
Similarly, if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie — most of it, anyway. From Coppola's precious slow-motion sequences to music-video aesthetics, the film doesn't dig much deeper. The notable exception is the parental presence of Leslie Mann (This Is 40) as the well-intentioned but completely oblivious mom to two members of the quintet, played by Harry Potter grad Emma Watson (not as deft at dark comedy as hoped) and Taissa Farmiga of TV's American Horror Story.
The Bling Ring is never more alive than in its opening montage, set to the clipped, fuzzed-out beats of Sleigh Bells' “Crown on the Ground.” That's not to say the rest is technically bad; like its subjects, Coppola just places style above substance. (For substance, watch the half-hour documentary on the real story, contained within Lionsgate's Blu-ray.)
For cinema dealing with superficial youth, The Bling Ring would make a great first half of a double bill with Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. (Just be sure to stop before you get to Spring Breakers). —Rod Lott