First films are often quirky, but usually at the cost of polish. Lightening, while clearly indie in style and budget, certainly hits the quirk meter right from the beginning, but it is very well crafted on all levels. Chris Colfer (Glee) wrote a wonderfully engaging, sweet, and rather delightfully snarky script and had the sense to get Dannelly (Saved) to direct it. And while Colfer’s character is rather similar to his Glee persona, it is different enough to remain interesting.
Colfer and Dannelly assembled a surprisingly well-heeled cast, given their own lack of history. The cast includes Hendricks (Mad Men), Janney (The Help, The West Wing), Mulrooney (The Grey), Wilson (Perfect Pitch), Hyland (Modern Family), Jenkins (Surface) and several other talented folks. Typically, a movie like this would be populated with talent that you’d only recognize in retrospect. That this many folks jumped on means they saw something in there worth working to achieve, despite the lack of funds.
The story itself, to be honest, isn’t ground breaking, but it is told well and captures the delightful cesspool that is high school, if a bit exaggerated. You will laugh and even choke up a bit. But it is never saccharine and often has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. I’m curious to see if Colfer can more completely break his mold as an actor, but I’m fairly sure he has a career as a writer if he wants it.