When Luli (Chloë Grace Moretz), the 13-year-old heroine of “Hick,” a botched coming-of-age story, decides to leave her Nebraska home for a glamorous life in Las Vegas, she takes off down the road, skipping. That’s after she’s practiced her Clint Eastwood moves in the mirror with her gun (a birthday present): “You feel lucky, punk?” Well, uh, do you?
Directed by Derick Martini and adapted by Andrea Portes from her novel of the same title, “Hick” sends its young heroine — more literary creation than credible teenager — into the big, bad American heartland. It’s a place of dank pool halls, one-street towns and shabby motels, a mythopoetic jumble of dangers and snares taken from other, better movies and books.
It feels fake, and the fakiness carries over to the characters Luli meets on the road. There’s Glenda (a surprisingly good Blake Lively), a grifter with a heart of gold who smokes pink cigarettes and dispenses wisdom; and Eddie, a psychotic cowboy with a limp (an effective Eddie Redmayne). Luli’s scenes with Glenda are improbable but amusing. Her scenes with Eddie are improbable and creepy. And Glenda and Eddie’s climactic scene is flat-out ridiculous.
Ms. Portes’s script strains credulity, and it’s not helped by Mr. Martini, who can’t find the right tone. Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” for a (thankfully off-screen) rape scene? Forced irony or klutziness? Too often that’s the question you ask of “Hick,” which makes the answer all too clear.
“Hick” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has violence, crack whores and outdated clichés about America.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 12, 2012
A film review on Friday about “Hick,” using information from a publicist, erroneously included a director as a co-screenwriter for the film. The screenplay was by Andrea Portes, who adapted her novel of the same title; the director Derick Martini was not a writer for the film.