We've all had to put up with teen romance pictures at some time or another. They have been around for decades and have only gotten worse in recent years. Most would have to admit that Freddie Prinze, Jr. is the king of bad teen romance comedies, and I'd have to agree. So after the spoof Scary Movie became a hit, it was almost inevitable that someone would tackle the bane of our existence, the teen romance comedy. It is in the form of Not Another Teen Movie.
Unlike Scary Movie, Not Another Teen Movie is quite successful in spoofing many, many teen films over the last couple of decades, but like Scary Movie, mainly sticks to the films that have come out in recent years. Some of those movies include Can't Hardly Wait, Never Been Kissed, American Pie, and most notably, She's All That, which marked the real beginning of Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s "reign." Not Another Teen Movie follows the general plot of She's All That, having the popular football jock trying to turn the "ugly" rebellious girl into the prom queen to win a bet. The movie branches out from there.
The movie has many funny moments, but there still aren't that many genuinely funny parts in the movie. I like potty humor and visual gags, but a film still needs to rely on a script to an extent, and Not Another Teen Movie just doesn't do that. There are a few times when the characters pull off some good lines, but for the most part the script just pulls in scenes from other movies and morphs them into a sicker, more twisted version (involving dildos and other stuff like that). I don't mind that for one or two scenes, but it is hard to watch an entire movie. I must admit, though, that I was entertained, and sickened, by the lesbian kissing scene.
To make things worse, Not Another Teen Movie feels really cluttered and rushed. As if the writers thought that just by spoofing some scenes in random movies would win over an audience, the movie does not have real focus, or focuses on the wrong spots. It does roughly cover the story of She's All That, but does not tackle some of the "better" scenes in that movie (a spoof of the artistic theater scene where Prinze plays with a hacki-sack would have been funny). If not revolving around that plot, the movie aimlessly wanders into other film territory and makes fun of a scene here or there, usually with the same formula and routine.
What Not Another Teen Movie really needed to do and did not do was make fun of the core outline that makes teen romances as sappy as they are. They all have the same plots for the most part and all end the same. First off, Not Another Teen Movie ends the exact same way that all real teen romance movies do; shouldn't the guy and girl not get together at the end (the guy chooses his bitchy ex-girlfriend and the girl gets left in the dust, or something like that?). The movie touches on some aspects, but only briefly, like the false clichés in high school (nerds, jocks, etc.). Never once does it make a joke about the actors being much older than their characters.
To be fair, I did laugh a moderate amount of the time. Sometimes, though, my laughter felt forced, and I felt as though I had seen all of this before, in another movie or just in a previous scene. Not Another Teen Movie has no wit, and that is what makes it undesirable. A strong screenplay means a strong movie, and this one just doesn't have it. It's just another teen loser.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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