Whatever It Takes Movie Review
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.
The interplay between Chris and Maggie is everything you might expect and totally uninteresting. Ryan and Ashley, on the other hand, are a riot. While O'Keefe's role may set the women's movement back about twenty years as the classic self-hating bimbo, it is pretty funny to watch. But then again, I'm a guy. James Franco's acting is about the same in this picture as on Freaks and Geeks, which isn't saying a lot, but his delivery of Chris's chauvinistic lines is believable enough. Shane West is bland but endearing as Ryan, and Marla Sokoloff has enough irritable spunkiness bring Maggie to life. What really makes this film work is the supporting cast, including Colin Hanks as the Tyler Durden-esque prankster, Floyd.
Aside from some excruciatingly bad sharing moments between Maggie and Ryan on their neighboring balconies, the dialogue carries well throughout the film. Screenwriter Mark Schwahn has written some of the funniest one-liners in a teen movie since Sixteen Candles.
All-in-all, this is not a brilliant film. It's not even at the top of its genre. It's about as close a resemblance to actual teenage life as Days of Our Lives is to the daily tribulations of the Salem elite. While its characters and story line aren't particularly convincing, it has heart, good humor and plenty of sex. I expect it'll succeed with high-schoolers in the same way American Pie and The Breakfast Club did before it--by relying on a soundtrack.
It Takes a village.