If ever there were a genre long overdue for a vicious lampooning, it would have to be the cliché-plagued fantasy factory of the witless teen comedy/romance.
The popular jock, the cruel cheerleader, the arty-dreamy bespectacled girl, her shy geek best friend pining for her love -- these stock characters were glaringly unoriginal and badly acted back when John Hughes cauterized his "Pretty In Pink" formula into the heads of vacuous pubescents in the '80s.
Now the time for reckoning has arrived. A whole slew of central casting pop culture denizens -- and the literally dozens of throwaway flicks they inhabit -- get skewered something fierce in the ribald and relentlessly, no-jokes-barred satire "Not Another Teen Movie."
Aping the crux of its plot from the genre's absolute nadir -- the Freddie Prinze, Jr. romance "She's All That," this spoof stars newcomers Chris Evans and Chyler Leigh as the cocky, filthy rich star quarterback and the mousy outsider from the wrong side of the tracks. She's the girl he asks to the prom on a bet, before falling in love when she takes off her glasses to reveal she's really a knockout.
But before it even gets into the plot, the movie opens with an ante-upping "American Pie" parody that finds our heroine caught in an act of self-gratification (with a monstrous mechanical aid) by her father, her grandparent, her brother and a priest, who have all come to wish her a happy 16th birthday.
The QB gets his introduction walking down the halls of John Hughes High School, saying hi to girls as they throw their panties at him. Hit in the face with a jock strap, he rolls his eyes and deadpans, "Hi Arthur...."
Helmed by Joel Gallen, the mastermind behind the raucous spoofs that run during the MTV Movie Awards, "Teen Movie" trades on the kinds of laughs that are hard to describe convincingly in print without them losing their punch in the translation. But the director has both barrels loaded for every scene, even dropping blink-and-you-miss-them sight gags into the background at a wicked rate. (My favorite: the TV and stereo repair shop called Spicoli's. Jeff Spicoli was the name of Sean Penn's stoned surfer in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," the Genesis of the modern teenager movie.)
Ruthlessly unloading on John Hughes' entire filmography, Gallen also trains his sites on "Clueless," "Can't Hardly Wait," "Varsity Blues" (there's a whipped cream scene you have to see to believe), "Cruel Intentions" (the sexagenarian reporter swaps spit with the school slut), and even includes a musical number, a la this year's Kirsten Dunst vehicle "Get Over It."
Sometimes "Not Another Teen Movie" doesn't know when enough is enough (girls' bathroom flatulence gag may be funny, but exploding excrement that follows is way too much), and it certainly doesn't have what it takes to stand on its own as a comedy. Movie critics (forced to see all this genre's horrors) and those currently or recently in their teens (willing to see all this genre's horrors) are probably the only ones who will be peeling with laughter -- if they don't get carded at the box office.
But there is something deeply satisfying about finally seeing these almost invariably insipid pubescent pictures put in their place.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th December 2001
Box Office USA: $37.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $66.5M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Original Film, Neal H. Moritz Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 69
IMDB: 5.7 / 10
Director: Joel Gallen
Starring: Chyler Leigh as Janey Briggs, Chris Evans as Jake Wyler, Jaime Pressly as Priscilla, Eric Christian Olsen as Austin, Mia Kirshner as Catherine Wyler, Lacey Chabert as Amanda Becker, Cerina Vincent as Areola, Molly Ringwald as Flight Attendant, Samaire Armstrong as Kara Fratelli, Michael Ensign as Father O'Flannagan, Kyle Cease as Slow Clapper, Desi Lydic as Cutie, Jackie Harris as Preston's Mother
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