Whatever It Takes

2000, Movie, PG-13, 92 mins


OK, those dead white folks could tell a good story, but they didn't know squat about lip gloss or tie-in soundtracks. Fortunately, today's Hollywood hotshots have stepped in to rectify the missing hottie and synergy factors in the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Choderlos de Laclos (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and now, Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac. High school jock Chris (James Franco) has the hots for smart, sensitive Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), but she won't give him the time of day. So he gets her lifelong best friend, Ryan (Shane West), to help out; Ryan pens sensitive email on Chris's behalf, tips him off to Maggie's likes and dislikes and generally instructs Chris in the art of making nice with girls. Ryan's reward: a date with Chris' stuck-up cousin Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), Gilmore High's resident object of all male desire. To Ryan's shock and dismay, his dream girl isn't so dreamy; she's rude, selfish, shallow and has an icky rash on her toes. Could it be that the woman he really loves is Maggie, whom he's just delivered into the clutches of a world-class wolf? Packed with fresh-ish young faces complete with high TV-generated recognition factor — between them, the young stars have featured slots on Freaks and Geeks, The Practice, Once and Again and Nash Bridges, and have appeared on a slew of other popular shows — this modest romantic comedy has its share of charming moments. But it feels desperately like the rehash it is; most of what isn't inspired by Cyrano bears a striking resemblance to the Melissa Joan Hart vehicle DRIVE ME CRAZY. And it's larded with blinding glimpse-of-the-obvious homilies: Treat your friends right, don't go along with the crowd, and to thine own self be true. Worthy sentiments all, but not exactly fresh insights. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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