Not Another Teen Movie

2001, Movie, R, 82 mins


How do you ridicule a genre as self-consciously clichéd as teen movies? Oh, hell, you just go for broke: Name the bodacious foreign exchange student Areola (Cerina Vincent) and have her attend classes stark naked, then trot in a pot-smoking porker — a real one, not the obligatory funny fat guy. This scattershot comedy (which might be called "irreverent" if anyone actually revered movies like AMERICAN PIE) features vulgar gags at the expense of recent youth-oriented pictures like SHE'S ALL THAT, NEVER BEEN KISSED, VARSITY BLUES, TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, CRUEL INTENTIONS, GET OVER IT, BRING IT ON and (stretching the definition of "teen movie" to its breaking point) AMERICAN BEAUTY. Despite the preponderance of cast members who strongly resemble such contemporary flavors of the month as Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein, Rachael Leigh Cook, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr., the film's heart lies with Reagan-era artifacts like SIXTEEN CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK, RISKY BUSINESS, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, PORKY'S and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, perhaps because they had some heart to begin with. Welcome to John Hughes High School (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), where jocks rule, geeks drool and ordinary girls live in fear of the meanest vixen in school (Mia Kirshner). Wasps quarterback Jake Wyler (Chris Evans) is the most popular guy in class, except that he's been benched since a misplaced sportsman-like gesture left the team's token half-blind weakling torn in half at the waist and, more important, cost them some Big Game. Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh) is the artsy outcast who needs only to unband her ponytail and ditch the nerd specs to blossom into a world-class beauty. On a dare from cruel cute guy Austin (Eric Christian Olsen), Jake agrees to transform Janey into a prom queen, thereby incurring the wrath of his ex-girlfriend Priscilla (Jaime Pressly), even though she just dumped Jake for the cool weirdo (Riley Smith) who's never seen without his digital video camera and the dancing plastic bag that follows him like the Red Balloon. So the movie is chock full o' tips of the hat to abused pastries, stolen cheerleading routines and homemade prom dresses, because first-time director Joel Gallen (who created the MTV Movie Awards) and screenwriters Michael G. Bender, Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman and Buddy Johnson all seem to have labored under the delusion that alluding to pop-cultural tropes is inherently comical. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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