John Tucker Must Die. What a great title for a teeny bopper film where four high school girls set out to destroy their common boyfriend, the player John Tucker. Amazingly, the movie is surprisingly decent, even if it comes off as a less-edgy Mean Girls.
The film stars a cheerleader (Ashanti), a sophisticated high school reporter (Arielle Kebbel) and a slutty hippie girl (Sophia Bush) who all discover one day that they are all dating the same man, the popular basketball star John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe). While their anger is at first aimed at one another, thanks to new girl Kate Spencer (Brittany Snow) they manage to channel their hatred toward the man who has destroyed their lives - and vow to enact revenge. While their first few attempts at humiliating Tucker fail, they soon learn that the true way to destroy him is to get him to fall in love with Kate, who is as clueless when it comes to dating as anyone, despite being the best looking girl of the four (well, maybe not better than Sophia Bush). But, can Kate withstand Tucker's charm long enough to destroy his massive reputation?
John Tucker Must Die is fairly conventional and predictable, but it succeeds by reveling in its simplicity. The movie has some witty lines of dialogue, but essentially is a situational comedy, and director Betty Thomas takes full advantage. There are a fair amount of laugh-out-loud sequences and the rest of the movie is consistently entertaining, even if things never go above and beyond. The movie is also aided by an exceptionally good-looking cast; I'll admit even Metcalfe is quite handsome and I'm not even into guys.
Of course, everything leads up to the final minutes of the film where you know the girls are going to attempt to humiliate John Tucker, Kate is going to have second thoughts and everything is going to work itself out. Unfortunately, the previous 90% of the film works its potential into a corner, as Kate seemingly falls for Tucker just a little bit, Tucker turns out to not be that bad of a guy, and yet you still know that Kate is somehow going to end up with Tucker's little brother.
Basically, the ending of the movie sucks. It is a complete cop-out if I've ever seen one, and it really doesn't make much sense. How everything works out is beyond me, and how Tucker gets over his embarrassment is really never explained. I would have much preferred to see the film take the edgy route and do something unexpected, like where Kate ends up becoming a sleazy girl and sticks with Tucker, or where Tucker ultimately turns the tables on her. Or, go a more basic route and make Tucker a true villain, so then the ending can be more satisfying when these "poor" girls get their revenge.
Despite a horrific ending, John Tucker Must Die still manages to be entertaining and surprisingly funny. It is by no means perfect or original, but deserves more attention than it has received.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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