Friday, June 10, 2005

Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Thanks to SCREAM, late 1990s witnessed the renaissance of teenage slasher films, so it didn’t take much convincing for Hollywood to try exploiting 1980s nostalgia with the another genre specific for that period. The result was the deluge of teen-themed comedies. And just like teenage slasher horrors in SCARY MOVIE, those comedies became the subject of parody in NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, 2001 comedy by Joel Gallen.

Like in many contemporary Hollywood parodies, the plot, based on the script written by five different screenwriters, is just an excuse for the series of gags. However, main narrative is modelled on SHE’S ALL THAT and is set in one Los Angeles high school. Its most popular student is typical jock Jake Wyler (played by Chris Evans) who makes a bet that he could seduced the ugliest girl in school and have it elected for prom queen. He decides to seduce Janey Briggs (played by Chyler Leigh), a mousy rebel artist, who is at first reluctant to answer to his advances but gradually sees that she is in love with him just as he is in love with her.

Parodies gained an unenviable reputation in last few years, mostly due to be perceived as just another manifestation of Hollywood’s unoriginality. NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, on the other hand, seems to be more faithful to its title despite taking inspiration from each and every teen film produced in Hollywood in late 1990s. The main reason is in filmmakers’ decision to have it R-rated, which allowed that some of the gags, characters and situations from original PG-13 films now look refreshing. Another, even more important reason why NOT ANOTHER MOVIE works is in broadening the scope of parody. While most of today’s Hollywood parodies don’t bother to take inspiration from anything older than eighteen months, screenwriting committee did its homework for this film and had paid homage to the early 1980s classics. This homage reflects not only in jokes, but also in many interesting cameo appearances, including Molly Ringwald. Filmmakers showed great affection for the material they parodied and this is always an important ingredient for any successful parody.

The young, relaxed but very talented cast obviously contributed to the success of NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE. Many of them had performances that easily outshine those that they were supposed to parody. One such example is Sam Huntington in an incredible cover version of Chris Klein’s character from AMERICAN PIE. Of course, not all jokes in the film – whether the audience is familiar with early 1980s teen films or not – work and on occasions Gallen succumbs to the temptations of gross-out humour. But, in general, NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE gives impression of being the product of certain intellectual effort, while being entertaining at the same time, and in modern Hollywood this is an achievement worthy of recommendation.

RATING: 6/10 (++)


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