Boys & Girls Movie Review

Another rotten romance inexplicably released by formerly respectable indie studio Miramax, "Boys and Girls" is a badly miscast and sadly stagnant collegiate rip-off of "When Harry Met Sally," devoid of a single moment of emotional sincerity or even a single character interesting enough to care about.

Even less original than its pathetically uncreative title suggests, it's the story of a boy (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and a girl (Claire Forlani) who meet from time to time throughout their young lives and pick on each other before winding up at the same college, become best friends and then complicate their relationship by falling into bed.

When it's not stealing scenes wholesale from "When Harry..." (they bond over bad break-ups; she makes a scene in a restaurant; he comforts her while she cries, which leads to kissing, sex, awkwardness, and feigned declarations that "it was a mistake"), the movie is a lazy undergrad romance about generic good-looking students who never study and live in $1,200-a-month apartments decorated like photo shoot in Wallpaper magazine.

As a UC Berkeley engineering major named Ryan, Prinze doesn't act so much as just speak while being filmed, leaving his entire character to be defined merely by the fact that he wears two watches. In the lexicon of Hollywood, this apparently signals that he's a dweeb. Prinze, who has zero geek cred, has been the common thread stringing together all three of Miramax's sorry forays into teen-marketed romance movies -- "She's All That," "Down To You" and now this. Can't somebody stop him?

Playing Ryan's best friend/love interest, Forlani ("Meet Joe Black") -- an actress of womanly beauty and intelligence -- is stuck in a proto-personality, cutesy coed role that any dime-a-dozen, 20-something with a head shot and an agent could have played. Absolutely wasted in the role, she's a good actress and that's something director Robert Iscove just isn't accustom to dealing with.

A TV veteran, Iscove was responsible for "She's All That," a "Pygmalion" remake that preached lip gloss and athlete boyfriends as the keys to happiness for teenage girls. That movie was awful, where as "Boys and Girls" is merely boring (arguably an even worse cinematic crime).

But even if it weren't a sad collection of pilfered, post-modern romantic clichés, "Boys and Girls" would still fall flat because Prinze and Forlani fail to click in the romantic chemistry department. This isn't entirely their fault however, since Iscove is constantly cutting away from their story at seemingly random intervals to dabble in subplots involving the couple's flaky and/or freaky roommates (Amanda Detmer and Jason Biggs -- the pastry-banger from "American Pie").

The only source of entertainment I found in "Boys and Girls" was giggling at Iscove's use Bay Area locations that are miles and miles apart as if they were practically on the same block (not to mention the way he throws in obvious Los Angeles locales as if no one will notice).

Of course, if you're not a Northern Californian, these insignificant amusements will be lost on you completely -- in which case the movie has even less to offer, save this one piece of trivia: Heather Donahue, in her first film role since "The Blair Witch Project," shows a little range in a small part, doing a tittering Annette Bening riff as a pretty blonde preppy Prinze dates while he and Forlani are in mutual denial.


Boys & Girls Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, Opened: Friday, June 16, 2000


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