On the Line does have a few little things that old folks (people who remember Cheers during its network run) can latch onto. Dave Foley, a great straight man, has a sizable role. There are lots of nice shots of Chicago. And Al Green sings a few songs.
However, the bad news is considerable, starting with the plot. Bass, plays a young ad man, who falls instantly in love with a comely graduate school student (Emmanuelle Chriqui of Snow Day) during a brief subway encounter.
Unfortunately, Bass has always had trouble asking girls out. And it continues as he fails to ask Chriqui for her name and phone number. Cursing his social ineptitude, Bass soon pastes fliers all over Chicago seeking the mysterious subway rider. His plight gets published in the papers, which leads to all sorts of wacky dates, problems with his friends (rip-offs of at least three characters from American Pie, who see a goldmine of social opportunities) and a pep talk from Cubs fan Jerry Stiller.
The concept isn't bad, if overly familiar, but the setup is completely off. Any guy who can ask, "Tell me something you'd never tell a stranger," without a trace of irony to a random hot girl, should have absolutely no problem sealing the deal. And, besides, why couldn't the smitten Chriqui ask Bass for his number?
Answer: The movie requires it. The script by Eric Aronson and Paul Stanton seems to have been written in a few hours -- Chriqui and Bass keep missing each other by moments, there's a comical montage of dates gone awry, etc. Characters are introduced and you know instantly what role they'll provide. Chriqui's boyfriend is in one scene, proves he's a colossal jerk, and soon vanishes. Bass's high school nemesis winds up covering his dilemma for the city newspaper. Fatone's idol (Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora!) appears on MTV, touting his appearance in Chicago. Wonder if the articles, which first turn Bass into a celebrity, will later tarnish his reputation? Wonder if Sambora will visit Fatone?
As for the acting of the teen heartthrobs, Bass is a harmless non-factor. Fatone, who plays Bass's flatulent, rock 'n' roller friend.. ugh! He's like the guy at the party who just won't shut up and will do anything to get attention. Don't believe me? Watch his rendition of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." It might change your stance on the death penalty.
The movie's most persistent problem is there isn't one genuine person or moment within sight. If a scene or character isn't outlandish, it's too familiar. Kids who love the group will flock to the movie, and will probably like what it offers. But anyone 18 or older will see On the Line for what it is: A movie swiped right off the high-concept assembly line.
Note: The movie concludes with an awful behind-the-scenes mockumentary, featuring *Nsync members Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake as flamboyant stylists. In continuing a horrifying tradition of remaking great disco/R&B songs for the hip-hop generation, Al Green sings a remake of "Let's Stay Together," which features a rap by co-star GQ. At this rate, it won't be long before James Brown shuffles out to perform "Sex Machine (Get Ur Freak On Remix)" with Pink.
But hey, it gets even worse on the DVD. Deleted scenes have Bass playing tic-tac-toe against a chicken. And can you say commentary track?
A Cubs fan... sheesh.
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th October 2001
Box Office USA: $4.2M
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: Miramax Films, A Happy Place
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 56
IMDB: 4.1 / 10
Director: Ed Bross
Starring: Lance Bass as Kevin Gibbons, Joey Fatone as Rod, Emmanuelle Chriqui as Abbey, James Bulliard as Randy Francis, Al Green as Himself, Tamala Jones as Jackie, Richie Sambora as Mick Silver, Amanda Foreman as Julie, Dan Montgomery Jr. as Brady, Dave Foley as Higgins, Jerry Stiller as Nathan, David Fraser as Barret, Jenny Parsons as Margie The Receptionist, Kristin Booth as Sam, GQ as Eric
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