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1999, Movie, R, 103 mins

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Hot on the heels of his surprise hit SWINGERS, director Doug Liman's superior third feature is a dark and edgy teen comedy that's also one of the most excitingly unpredictable American comedies since PULP FICTION. At exactly the same moment on Christmas Eve in a nondescript L.A. suburb, three carefully intertwined stories unfold. In the first, a supermarket checkout girl name Ronna (Sarah Polley) agrees to fill-in for her coworker Simon (Desmond Askew) so he and three friends can take a holiday road trip to Las Vegas. When she's approached by two young actors (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) looking to score 20 hits of Ecstasy from Simon, Ronna tries her hand at amateur drug dealing. Bad move. The second story follows Simon and his friends to Vegas, where things get off to a great start — Simon even manages to weasel himself into bed with two drunken bridesmaids — but things go horribly wrong in a sleazy strip club when Simon breaks the cardinal rule of lap-dancing: no touching. The third story returns to the two actors who first approached Ronna at the supermarket. Busted for possession, Zack (Mohr) and Adam (Wolf) — two popular soap stars who, unbeknownst to their fans, are also lovers — are forced to first take part in an undercover drug sting operation, then spend Christmas dinner with a creepy DEA agent (William Fichtner) and his swinging wife (Jane Krakowski), who have something even more sinister in mind than couple swapping. Violent, funny and breathlessly paced, this isn't your ordinary teen flick. Like Richard Linklater at his laid-back best, John August's ingenious script is offhandedly incisive, and Liman's style — a lot of hand-held camera and naturalistic lighting — makes for a perfect fit. And like Tarantino at his most exhilarating, the whole film is infused with the invigorating sense that at any given moment anything can happen — and usually does. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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