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Not Another Teen Movie
2001 - R - 89 Mins.
Director: Joel Gallen
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Written By: Mike Bender, Adam Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman, Buddy Johnson
Starring: Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.sony.com/NotAnotherTeen/
   

Not Varsity Blues - Jake gets sweet on Janey
MTV director/producer, Joel Gallen, had a tough balancing act with ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ – spoof the teen movie genre or make a National Lampoon style gross-out comedy? Or do both? ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ is a better-than-average movie, a perfect rental for fans of the genre or for older GenX eager to play trivial pursuit with their knowledge of Molly Ringwald movies. Though it doesn’t work all the time, the movie is still highly entertaining with some bang-on imitations and wicked spoofs.

What makes ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ work is its inspired casting. Chyler Leigh is very funny starring as Janey Briggs (‘North Shore’) – a weird morph of Molly Ringwald and Rachael Leigh Cook. Chris Evans (‘Cellular’), with an obviously fake hair color, is also perfectly cast as Jake Wyler, the big jock on campus. Trivia buffs will note that he has the same first name and red Porsche 944 as the heartthrob in ‘Sixteen Candles.’ There’s a lot of funny stuff happening here but that’s also the movie’s downfall as it tries to do too much within its 89 minutes. From every Molly Ringwald movie to ‘Varsity Blues’, ‘American Pie’, ‘Risky Business’, ‘American Beauty’, ‘Grease’, ‘Karate Kid’ and more, ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ goes after way too many movies so you either have to be an older Gen X movie buff who’s watched every one of these references or you’re not going to get all the humor in the zingy script.

Even the ‘Scary Movies’ restricted themselves to 3 or 4 movie spoofs – and they were all movies within 3 years of release. To go after every teen movie from the 1980s to present day is quite an undertaking. Still, there’s some nasty stuff with over-the-top humor about incest, scatology, virginity, and an amazing Britney Spears video spoof with the very stunning Mia Kirshner (‘Exotica’). Kirshner, who plays Jake Wyler’s incestuously-minded sister, also has a revolting scene that involves an older woman and a poke at ‘Never Been Kissed.’

It’s clear that the 5 writers credited with ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ decided to use and abuse their video rental memberships and had a field day with the teen movie references. The plot is basically ‘She’s All That.’ The popular high school jock, Jake, is challenged to turn Janey, the nerdiest girl in the school, into the prom queen. At first suspicious of his intentions, Janey soon falls in love with Jake. And once she’s transformed into a hottie, Jake falls in love with Janey but how can he explain the bet to her and that he’s changed his shallow ways?

Of course, Jake and Janey attend John Hughes High School populated with teen movie stereotypes – the movie poster and DVD cover conveniently lists the stereotypes for you. It’s part of the movie’s appeal that they hit so many stereotypes but the wafer-thin plot struggles not to turn into an extended Mad TV episode. It’s also de rigeur for teen movies to have fart and diarrhea jokes – and now, having seen ‘Not Another Teen Movie’, I see where one of the nastier scenes of ‘Harold and Kumar’ came from.

What ‘Scary Movie’ did to horror movies, ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ does to the teen movie genre. What’s funnier – that the genre is so spoofable because of its by-the-numbers construction or that teen stereotypes have been so consistent since the 1980s? By the time we get to the actual Molly Ringwald cameo, I was reminded that it was Ringwald and her 3 influential John Hughes movies (‘Sixteen Candles’, ‘Pretty in Pink’, and ‘The Breakfast Club’) that have defined the way teenagers have been portrayed in the movies. Everything since has been pale imitation.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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