In the age of streaming it is never a good sign when distributors haven’t bothered to take the original studio logos (in this case Lionsgate) of what has been sold as a streaming “original.” This is the case with How to Build a Girl A completely rancid self-insert autobiographical “comedy” penned by British journalist Caitlin Moran It starts Beanie Feldstein ( Booksmart) as the central character who sets out from a working class background in 1990s Wolverhampton to become a music journalist and essentially gets into the profession because she persistent enough at her first interview with the NME to be successful. Here we run into one of the films biggest issues. The screenplay and performances are entirely a wish fulfilment narrative but in order for those stories to work there needs to be some level of empathy for the characters dreams. A desire to watch her succeed. Large chunks of this script come off as a celebrity conducting an elaborate flex on the audience in showing off just how easy they had it once she left home. She puts on a funny hat,gets herself a boyfriend and writes some reviews that get her noticed.
For as much as Booksmart showed her clear talent Feldstein is stuck with this dreadful screenplay that beyond the excruciating wish fulfilment elements falls somewhere between an embarrassingly dated Bridget Jones wannabe and an incredibly misjudged surrealist fantasy. The film contains sequences involving the protagonist talking to posters of historical and inspirational figures on her wall. The figures are voiced by random selection of British celebrities (Mel and Sue, Alexi Sayle Gemma Arterton , Jameela Jamil, Lilly Allan and others.) While this idea is not terrible in concept (it is the kind of thing Harry Hill might have done in the golden age of TV Burp) the writing isn’t committed enough with going whole hog in the scenes. They end up another reasonable attempt to increase the films “quirk” factor that has all the appeal of a punch to the face. Michael Sheen turns top to help fill the quota of “actors that are far too good for this” that typically appear in style of embarrassing British comedy. Add to that one of the most misjudged endings of recent memory where the central characters comedic self-harm article catches the eye of Emma Thompson (turning up for one scene) automatically gets her a job and you have not only the worst British film of the year but quite possibly of the last 10 years.
The sad thing is there will be an audience for this. Those looking to fill out their “films by women” challenge and audiences that find this pile of extra pungent horse manure “inspirational.” These people should be sat down in front of Gurinder Chadhas Blinded by the Light which is essentially the same film but succeeds in all the areas this will make audiences with half a brain cell think that a swift kick to the nether regions would be more enjoyable.