Lindsay Lohan Coke Bust or Clever PR Move?

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity...


(Photo: Tracy Bennett/Sony Pictures)

One of the peculiarities of a film critic's job is explaining to others why, and how often, certain films aren't actually screened in advance by their studios. Does that mean they automatically suck, like Captivity? Often, yes. But this coming Friday the 27th offers a bounty of movies being screened too late for Seattle Weekly deadlines (or not at all) for what suspects are many different reasons. The Simpsons Movie we see today, and our review will be online Wednesday. And no one seriously believes that will suck. Then there's a new werewolf movie called Skinwalkers (no preview, sounds sucky), and a ghetto-meets-golf comedy starring Big Boi called Who's Your Caddy? (maybe not so sucky, like a race-conscious Caddyshack). Then there's Lindsay Lohan, arrested this very morning for DUI and cocaine possession, starring in I Know Who Killed Me, which now becomes the must-see cultural document of the weekend. Readers, this movie sounds gloriously sucky, but I put it to you that Lohan's drug bust is a calculated publicity move by one of the shrewdest young actresses working in Hollywood. (Update: Jim Ridley's review.) Here's why...

To understand Lohan's thinking--as she allegedly chased the mother of the personal assistant she had just fired, both of them in SUVs, straight into the police department parking lot--one must understand, or try to understand, the plot of I Know Who Killed Me. Which requires quoting liberally from the press kit, so bear with me. In the movie, Lohan plays "a bright and promising young college student [who] is abducted and tortured by a sadistic serial killer." Is there any other kind of serial killer? Sounds just like Captivity. But let's keep reading--she escapes, and the girl previously considered "a talented and aspiring writer...shocks everyone by claiming to be a down-on-her-luck stripper." Got that? Lohan, post abduction trauma, possibly mental, "begins to suspect she may be [the kidnapped girl]'s identical twin sister."

Identical twins, people! That explains everything! Because, really, which is more plausible--Lohan as bright and promising young college student, or as coked-up stripper? But they both make perfect sense--indeed, her entire career now makes sense--when we realize there are in fact two Lohans, one kept from public view, both of them working in concert. It's yin and yang, ego and id, Jeckyll and Hyde. There's the good Lohan, the cute talented actress we know and like from Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and A Prairie Home Companion. Then there's the bad Lohan, the one in the mug shots, the one who actually goes out in public, shuttling between rehab and the clubs of Los Angeles. One does her work capably on set, and the other acts as a sort of voodoo doll, absorbing all the paparazzi, drugs, booze, and tabloid headlines.

Only now both are making headlines, or will. Dual roles in life and art. And if the bad Lohan is locked in the slammer for a few months, her fair sibling can continue making movies and doing talk shows. This week's media attention should therefore help, not hurt, the new movie, contrary to the usual PR wisdom. It's all so brilliant. I Know Who Killed Me? Sure, but which "me"?

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