Smile

Rated PG-13 2005

The story of a teenage girl in Malibu who finds herself via a Chinese girl with a severe facial deformity, Smile is a well-intentioned movie that shifts rapidly into the realm of the offensive. Mika Boorem (Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) plays Katie, a boobular high school student who can't choose between the popular boy she already dates and the shaggy, mysterious boy who wants her. Meanwhile, in China, a traumatized girl named Lin (Yi Ding) lives behind curtains and veils, hiding her deformed face. Daniel (Luoyang Wang), her loving father, wants Lin to undergo corrective surgery offered by a humanitarian group, but she resists -- until Katie shows up and, in a single evening, convinces Lin to do it. Despite Cheri Oteri's moving turn as a zealous nurse volunteer and an obvious attempt by writer/director Jeff Kramer to say something meaningful, Smile falls flat, an unctuous pedant miserably unaware of its Western privilege -- despite repeated references to same. Perhaps the film could have taken Lin's point of view throughout.

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