Though not credited as such, The Roommate is a powerfully lame reworking of Single White Female, not to mention, after The Mechanic, the new year’s second inferior remake of a film that wasn’t terribly good to begin with. Re-imagined, if that’s the word, for spoiled collegiates, this dumped-in-February redo stars Friday Night Lights’ Minka Kelly, 30, as a freshman at the prestigious University of Los Angeles. She lucks into sharing her spacious and eternally dim room with Leighton Meester’s mysteriously chipper art student, who forges an immediate stranglehold on her roomie’s affairs.
Soon, Meester is ripping out naval rings from Kelly’s skanky friends, having phone sex with her ex—who evidently can’t tell the difference between his former girlfriend and someone who sounds nothing like her—and saving her nastier work for an adorable stray kitten christened “Cuddles.” Alas, Kelly, who comes off as a less charismatic Jessica Alba, is painfully slow to grow hip to Meester’s clear batshit insanity, despite her penchant for late night “Where were you?”s and shooting sinister glares. Her being engaged in higher education must have been an accident.
Single White Female was high-end trash (directed by the occasionally credible, occasionally not so much, Barbet Schroeder, who was working somewhere in between) with one weirdly empathetic performance. The Roommate is sub-trash, in that it’s not even enjoyable on a shameless level, and therefore not useful to anyone beyond Billy Zane completists. (He plays a lecherous professor. Not as fun as it sounds.) Meester, needless to say, is no Jennifer Jason Leigh, who at least conveyed deep, personally, absolutely fucked-up trauma. Meester’s psycho is merely a whiny rich kid off her meds, telegraphing her homicidal tendencies from the start, leaving no place to go but a finale that represents a failure of nerve and much else besides. You could blame the restricting PG-13 rating for the film’s active lack of fun and thrills, but The Roommate is so lacking it feels like it was always intended to be a joyless PG-13 right from the green light.