Understand, I am in my mid-late 20’s, a child of the 80’s in its purest distilled form. I fear the huge jeans and the tattoos and the piercing going on in today’s 3rd grade classroom. Dawson’s Creek is….well, jeez. So even as I feared this movie, something in the preview called me. It was the ghost of 16 Candles, the voice of Ferris Bueller, the what-the-f*&k attitude of Risky Business, the inter-clique fishbowl of The Breakfast Club, the star crossed romance of Valley Girl, the conformity pressure of Pretty in Pink, the devil-may care school of filmmaking displayed in Better Off Dead. And that, my friends, is a good thing. It doesn’t plagiarize, it doesn’t retread – it’s definitely got the new cliques of today, the issues, the wardrobe, but it takes the spirit of the 2nd teen movie renaissance (after the one in the early 60’s which frankly scares the crap out of me) and revives it.
I totally loved this movie. My group was aged 28-33, and we laughed, roared, bust a gut laughing, the whole movie. The other audience members, fingering their shiny new driver’s licenses, were silent. I don’t get it. I loved everyone in the movie, every word was great, the story was cool, the acting was truly phenomenal (even Jennifer Love Hewitt and her breasts were OK). Standout performance was Seth Green, as the hip hop boy Kenny. He was in Can’t Buy Me Love, which I have not seen, but now I will. He was exceptional. Seriously. I saw him loping on screen with his honky homies and I rolled my eyes, thinking, here’s the weird comic relief, but his performance was nuanced and real and just fabulous. Just go see it!
Ethan Embry, our ostensible male lead, loves Jennifer Love Hewitt – of course we want them to get together but doubt they will. But what a sweet journey. His yearning for her is neither hackneyed nor blind, and she has actual worthiness for his attention (unlike Blair from Pretty in Pink!). Look out John Cusack, a new Lloyd Dobler is rolling down the block! Embry was The Bass Player in That Thing You Do and the charming Squirrel in Dancer TX – I am a big fan!!!!! Two other Dancer boys are in this movie – can you spot them? Charlie Korsmo is the requisite geek who penetrates the cool party – his scenes are a RIOT. Peter Facinelli channels early, Porsche-stealing Tom Cruise effortlessly. You’d never guess it, really, but the whole movie was just a total gas! I am going to own it. Come over and watch it!*
Writer/directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (of the Brady movies, surprisingly decent films in and of themselves) have really got a sense of youth and the weirdness of the interactions in the most charged time of a person’s life. Remember how in touch John Hughes used to be? This is them. They have got it. The saddest part is that they had to cut a bunch of stuff, even an entire character, to squeak down from an R rating to a PG-13 – a real shame. I hope they release a “director’s cut” when the DVD comes out. What I have noticed, talking to people who have seen it, is that it seems more geared toward “my” generation than the one it’s about – I know these kids today wearing 4″ inflatable sandals have no idea who Yaz is! So the music keeps my friends from getting alienated, but the people are all real. I totally loved it, every bit – there’s a scene with Seth Green and Lauren Ambrose (who is she? she’s great!) that is just…oh man, I hate my rule of not giving anything away. But it’s very natural and good and real. And it’s comforting to think that the high schoolers of today aren’t as different as I thought they were, just because they can fit a Buick in their pants.
Go see it.
*Invitation not valid in most states.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 6/12/98
Time in minutes 101
Director Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Studio Columbia Pictures