If Summer of ’42 — that ’70s-era tear-stained love story about an older married woman and a virginal young man having a dalliance during school break — were remade today, it just might turn out to be Careful What You Wish For. That is, if you added a shirtless Nick Jonas, a scantily-clad Isabel Lucas, a scowling Dermot Mulroney, and a murder.
Jonas is Doug Martin, a straight-arrow, book-smart kid who spends every summer with his parents in a rental house at the lake where he hangs out with his best bud, Carson (Graham Rogers), fantasizing about the local girls. But something is different this season. Moving in next door is Elliot Harper (Mulroney), a nasty piece of work, and his mysterious and beautiful young wife, Lena (Lucas).
Of course, because this is a movie where things like this have to happen, the Harpers leave their curtains wide open at night so Doug can see them fighting and Elliot getting violent.
During daylight hours, Lena and Doug have been eyeing each other and she comes up with all sorts of damsel-in-distress excuses to get next to him, like locking herself out of her house and getting him to break in. Then there’s the always seductive act of finding a spider in your car and having your knight-in-tight-T-shirt come kill it.
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Speaking of killing, things take a sharp turn when Elliott winds up dead. That’s when our hapless heartthrob Doug learns that things may not be what they seem.
Careful What You Wish For has its share of flaws: Jonas, though good, seems too mature and experienced to play the aw-shucks virgin; Lucas is rather stiff; and it turns into a rather rote thriller with a not particularly convincing resolution.
But director Elizabeth Allen keeps things moving quickly enough over a breathless 91 minutes that the film works as breezy, forgettable summer escapism.
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Careful What You Wish For
☆☆☆ (out of five)
Director: Elizabeth Allen
Cast: Nick Jonas, Isabel Lucas, Dermot Mulroney
Rated: R (some sexual content/nudity and strong language)
Running time: 91 min.