If you were flipping through the channels one night and ran across Careful What You Wish For, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was one of those awful Wild Things or Poison Ivy sequels. The erotic thriller for teeny-boppers cribs from all of those films in just about every way; devious and sexy neighbors, easily manipulated dudes, murder, a-hole rich guys, town sheriffs, and even dogged insurance investigators. It also has 100% more Nick Jonas than all of those other movies did, and seeing the former pop star ply his acting trade may be a draw to some of his fa. They're likely to come away wishing he would just put out another album, though.
Jonas blends into the scenery as Doug, a bookish boat enthusiast spending summer in North Carolina with his family before heading off to college. While his annoying pal (Graham Moore) is obsessed with scoring chicks and getting laid, Doug is a virgin and timid around women. He's hoping this summer will be his chance to finally find some excitement, but BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!! Dunh dunh dunh!!!!
He gets all the excitement he could ever want when rich investment banker Elliot (Dermot Mulroney) moves in next door with his sexy young wife, Lena (Isabel Lucas). The film teases her getting out of cars, walking with her sun dress billowing in the wind, and catching eyes with Doug at every opportunity. It isn't long before the two are sneaking off to the docks for make-out sessions, or doing it right in the middle of Elliot's house when he's away. Occasionally they even do it in the supermarket with Elliot skulking around like a possessive caveman, which is what Lena claims he is. And a dangerous caveman, at that. When violence erupts and someone ends up dead, Elliot is forced to choose between doing what he knows is right, and doing what his hot girlfriend wants. What do you think he chooses? Of course he chooses the latter. Wouldn't be much of a film if he didn't.
It's still not much of a film, anyway. Director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum is best known for helming episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl, and she's not called upon to do much beyond what she does on those shows, which is to keep the camera focused on Jonas and Lucas' best assets. She's working from a screenplay that takes a trivial CW-style approach to love, lust, and adultery, through characters that are drawn as broadly as possible. Lucas is absolutely stunning and it's easy to see why any guy that age (or any age, frankly) would do anything she asked, but the performance is so bland that you don't care if she has a hidden agenda. Despite being well into his 20s, Jonas more than fits into the younger role. He's not bad, just fails to make much of an impression, and his sex scenes with Lucas are pretty awkward. This being his first major acting role (unless you count the CampRock films, which you shouldn't) it's not a shock he'd be a little uncomfortable, but the director should have picked up on it rather than letting it slide.
A few meager twists and turns are thrown out there, but if you've seen any of the aforementioned thrillers then they'll be telegraphed a mile away. That said, at least the film is never dull, and there's some pleasure in all of the recycled clichés. It really is like venturing back to a time when it seemed like one of these movies came out every week, but it also serves as a pretty good reminder why they don't anymore.
Rating: 2 out of 5