Like Spring Breakers without the moxie (and Scarface allusions), The Bling Ring emulates the vacuousness of the real-life West Hollywood teenage social climbers who made news a few years ago by burglarizing celebrities' homes and pilfering millions in cash and other wares, including jewelry, Rolex watches, Gucci shoes and Birkin handbags, because they're what "Lindsay uses."
It starts with Rebecca (Katie Chang) and her new guy pal Marc (Israel Broussard) breaking into Paris Hilton's mansion using the spare key the party girl keeps under the doormat. Joined by their friends (played by Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga, among others), the group extends their spree to the homes of Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Megan Fox and, yes, Lindsay Lohan.
Director Sofia Coppola essentially engages in the same voyeurism as the felons—you suspect the group breaks into Hilton's house multiple times because Hilton permitted Coppola to film inside her actual home, allowing the audience to ogle the heiress' vanity throw pillows, walk-in shoe closet and "nightclub room."
Moreover, Coppola likes to make movies about people and places she knows. Unfortunately, that doesn't automatically mean those subjects are inherently interesting. Coppola pays lip service to taking us inside the minds of the burglars, members of the Facebook Generation, but the characters aren't developed enough for the audience to understand or care about them.
Near the film's end, there's the irony of how the teens finally achieve desired fame via their infamy. But that theme's been done better and not nearly so perfunctorily. Ultimately, the zeitgeist here doesn't extend beyond the borders of Calabasas, Calif.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Little criminals."