Given that Glee’s Chris Colfer has been successfully expanding into every medium he can reach, from children’s books to live performances to MTV movie parodies to a Disney pilot, it’s no particular surprise that his debut film, Struck By Lightning—an indie he scripted and starred in—has been picked up for distribution. At this rate, scientists studying the Chris Colfer phenomenon estimate that by the year 2017, the pop-culture universe will be comprised of roughly 87 percent Chris Colfer.
Struck By Lightning premièred in April 2012 at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, and now Tribeca Films has acquired the film’s U.S. release rights, which feels a little like Dick Cheney heading that vice-presidential search committee that eventually decided he was the best candidate for vice president. Tribeca has announced plans for a “late 2012 theatrical release day,” but is planning to simultaneously distribute it via Video On Demand through Amazon, iTunes, and other services.
Struck By Lightning stars Colfer in a role that feels like equal parts his Glee character, Kurt Hummel, and unadulterated Chris Colfer: He plays a preposterously ambitious, precocious high-schooler engaged in every possible non-physical extracurricular activity, and obsessed with getting into Northwestern University and becoming a world-renowned journalist and writer. Not incidentally, he also wants to get away from his dead-end small town, where the popular kids scorn him. Once he finds out he needs even more activities on his transcript to impress Northwestern, he launches a literary journal, and he and outcast ally Rebel Wilson blackmails those popular kids into submitting pieces. All of which would make Struck By Lightning something of a playful, Heathers-esque dark comedy, except that it has a heavy melodrama side, via the alcoholic, depressive mother (Allison Janney) who wants to hold Colfer back, the estranged father (Dermot Mulroney) who’s about to officially dump Janney so he can marry his pregnant fiancée (Christina Hendricks), and the Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother who seemingly exists solely to make Colfer even broodier. It’s further complicated by the fact that Colfer dies in the film’s first scene, and the rest of his story is told in flashback. (Care to guess how he dies? The title might just be a clue.)
Struck By Lightning makes an interesting pair with the other film Tribeca Films picked up for release after it won Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Festival: War Witch, a powerful, painful drama about a young African girl impressed into service by a militia leader who thinks she has magical powers. War Witch is slated for a 2013 release; as of press time, there was no word available on why Chris Colfer didn’t star in that film, too.