Boys And Girls Movie Review

Boys and Girls plays like a college version of When Harry Met Sally..., with just as much fun and fewer contrivances. Here, the key couple is Ryan and Jennifer, who meet by chance on a plane as pre-teens, and continually bump into one another until their lives bisect at Cal-Berkeley. Ryan, played by Flavor of the Moment Freddie Prinze Jr., is a bright, sometimes awkward engineering student who loves planning and order; Jennifer, Meet Joe Black's Claire Forlani, majors in Latin for no particular reason and aims to travel. Both wish they could apply their positive personality traits to their floundering relationships, but it just doesn't work.

The smart script for Boys and Girls, written by the humbly-credited "Drews", succeeds in part because Ryan and Jennifer nurture their unique friendship for nearly all of the film. While the inevitable Hollywood ending may be in viewers' minds from the get-go, The Drews and director Robert Iscove keep us guessing if this pair might ever connect with each other, and the sweet performances by Prinze and Forlani keep us interested.. The couple's interplay, and the machinations of their separate, frustrating lovelives, are satisfying enough that a sunshiny ending is not required.

Iscove, a TV veteran and director of Prinze's She's All That, provides so much screen time between the leads that there are times when sequences seem almost too long - until we realize we're seeing Ryan and Jennifer weeks or months later, and not the same night as the previous scene. It's one of the many subtle surprises in Boys and Girls, and it keeps the film floating with an infectious energy.

When movies like these create supporting roles, it's usually to provide basic comic relief or other plot motivation that minimizes the characters - not the case here. Jason Biggs, becoming famous and good very quickly, is Hunter, Ryan's roommate who changes hair color every semester and stories with every girl he meets; Amanda Detmer garners sympathy as Jennifer's nervous, jealous roommate, desperately trying to find her way while being overly reliant on her therapist. This pair become neatly woven into the story, rather than existing just on the fringes. It's more effort than you'd find in say, Nora Ephron's standard Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romances.

One of the best compliments that can be paid to Boys and Girls is that it recalls Cameron Crowe's work. Sure, there's the basic story of young adults trying to get comfortable in their own skin, but there's more. Iscove injects the film with the total atmosphere of college life, Berkeley, and San Francisco, creating a fuller environment for his characters and story. Crowe showed similar skills with Singles and ...Say Anything, and that kind of detail adds a real flavor and maturity to the movie.

When John Hughes created The Breakfast Club in the mid-80s, he added substance and humor to his characters, making a seemingly "teen" movie appeal to a broad audience. The makers of Boys and Girls were obviously affected by Hughes (aside from Ryan and Jennifer going to a Hughes double-feature): moving against the grain of recent films, Boys and Girls glides by with no nudity, no gross-out humor, and minimal stereotyping, and yet should still appeal to the high school and college audience. It avoids cheap laughs and respects its young characters, and that's a welcome change.

Girl and girl.


Boys And Girls Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


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