Whatever It Takes is actually a solid pinning of the high school romantic comedy. There's nothing especially original about its plot or characters, but most of its target audience won't notice. Basically, what we have here is the standard boy-wants-girl-but-she's-out-of-his-league-so-his-friend-coaches-him-and-she's-gullible-enough-to-fall-for-it picture. The twist is that this is a two-way exchange. Ryan Woodman (Shane West) is a supposedly geeky high school senior lusting after popular girl Ashley Grant (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe -- She's All That). Chris Campbell (James Franco of Freaks and Geeks) is a dumb but popular jock looking to bed Maggie Carter (Marla Sokoloff), the smart-but-undervalued hottie who lives next door to Ryan. So the two begin a completely unsurprising story arc in which the two most prominent teenage girl stereotypes fall for every line in the book without ever suspecting a thing.
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For the record, I scored an 1110 on my SAT, which was fine with me. Then again, I wasn't nearly as motivated as these kids during my senior year. Though they run in different social circles, the scheming students of The Perfect Score are united by one common denominator - the SAT stands in the way of their career aspirations.
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Except in this case, the events actually happened. Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) benched his undefeated Richmond Oilers in 1999 because the team failed to meet academic requirements he established at the start of the season. Amid protests from both school faculty and area parents, Carter locked his players out of the gymnasium and drove them into the library until their grades were up to snuff.
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