The only reason I can find for the existence of Barely Lethal is that two of the actors from Game of Thrones (Turner & Sebastian) appear in the film. Like many films that ride the line between plots aimed at teenagers and those peddling adult themes, Barely Lethal doesn’t seem to have a target audience. Originally slapped with an R rating, A24 appealed, the film ended up at PG-13. With language and sexual content mixed with the “cool girly content” this isn’t for young impressionable girls. Barely Lethal is promoting girl power, but it’s overdone with female super agents, female villains, single mom and daughter. To top it all off, Oscar nominee Steinfeld says things like: “I thought about what’s next for me – it’s you”.

 Being a Prescott girl means you were an orphan, trained since infancy to become a secret agent and the life of a normal teenager is unfamiliar. Agent 83 (Steinfeld) fakes her death to become a high school student in Newton, Pennsylvania and lead a normal life. She moves in with the Larson family, and takes advice from outsider Liz (Cameron) on how to fit in. Renaming herself Megan Walsh, the former secret agent does research on how to be a teenager from movies like Clueless, Bring it On and 90210. Her bubbly personality is a bit too much for the graduating class, but she does attract the most wanted guy in school, local band front man Cash Fenton (Sebastian) and for a brief moment has the life she always wanted, until her identity is revealed.  

 Jessica Alba was involved in Spy Kids 4, and Barely Lethal is the equivalent of that franchises progression. Jackson and Alba seem unable to turn down even the worst of film projects or half bit roles. The cast isn’t the films problem, because there are tons of talented artists involved. It’s the stupidity and the content. Neither writer nor director has experience in connecting mainstream films with mainstream audiences.  What could have been a family film promoting female characters, or a female version of KickAss, is instead a joke. After Begin Again and Pitch Perfect 2, I have already grown bored of Steinfeld (True Grit) playing the teenage odd ball. Realizing that her career is limited at this point she has quickly become typecast and uninteresting to watch.  

 It’s insulting to a PG-13 audience to have one of the top teenage secret agents in the world, unable to comprehend how to blend into a typical high school. In one scene we see Agent 83 reading Seventeen Magazine, yet in another she is oblivious to style, fashion and trends. In another scene we see the agent catching up on 90’s and 2000 era high school films, yet in another she seems to have learned nothing. She is smart enough to sneak into the school undetected, change the biology seating arrangements, yet oblivious the next second when prompted by two teens suggesting she tryout for the school mascot. When corndogs are used as weapons Barely Legal hits the final forgivable moment.  

 Final Thought – Barely tolerable.

Grade D+

By: Dustin Chase