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Movie Review: Never Been Kissed

So after GO, Barry, Hillary and I snuck into NEVER BEEN KISSED. Movies in NYC are now about 10 bucks with no matinee prices, so it pays to haul over to Jersey and catch a two-fer. The only trouble is selection is limited to what’s playing at the local mall. I haven’t seen any cool art films since I left Pennsylvania, which is kind of an odd irony considering there’s supposed to be so much more to do in New York. The commercials for KISSED looked funny anyway, but I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it.

Which was a shame because there seemed to be a good movie lurking somewhere within the material. As it was, it was all forced, contrived, obvious and unrealistic. Like the anti-drug propaganda I discussed in the GO review, most movies get the depiction of teen clique culture all wrong, too. If situations and characters were exaggerated for comic effect, that would be one thing. But KISSED played like it was to be a serious teen expose that someone decided, without altering the basic script, to turn into a screwball comedy. The most interesting character disappeared halfway into the flick.

So, Drew Barrymore is a twentysomething reporter sent on an undercover assignment back to high school to write an article about kids today. When she was a teenager herself, Drew was a complete dork and is pretty much the same as an adult, commandeering respect from no one amongst friends, family and coworkers. As a faux student, she starts out trying to befriend the cool clique, but painfully doesn’t fit in. That part of the flick was fairly entertaining. I’m no fan of Drew’s, but she was funny acting like a klutz. When the story got serious (*groan*), she lost me but I could have watched her walk into walls and fall down stairs for an hour and a half.

In movies, the war between the nerds and the jocks is a totally overused and generally badly done cliché. In high school I remember there being social divisions, sure, but the cool kids were never “out to get” the losers. That kind of thing works in a film when it’s the main plot motivator, like REVENGE OF THE NERDS (even though that was college), but it’s too awkward when it’s used casually like in KISSED.

Not fitting in with the class sluts, Drew is befriended by a cute geek, Leelee Sobieski, and her geek pals. Being geeks, the movie has to show how big of geeks they are. They prance around the halls of the school wearing matching sweatshirts calling their little club “The Denominators”. No wonder they got their asses kicked! I would have pushed these dorks into the lockers, too. The jocks get drunk and The Denominators roast marshmallows over a bunsen burner in the Chemistry lab.

Okay, like I said, I was a geek, I hung out with the geeks. My friends worked on the school paper, were in the drama club, marched in the school band, were elected to government offices and were in the National Honor Society. And we got ripped almost every weekend. I cannot stand the obligatory scene in teen flicks where the straight-A kids stick their nose up at the straight-Fs. Smart kids drink, do drugs and have sex, too. Just because they’re smart doesn’t mean they don’t. Smart kids can do stupid things. It’s called being a kid.

Then, in KISSED, the plot twist comes. Drew’s brother sneaks into high school, too, and makes her popular with the sluts and the jocks. That’s when Leelee and The Denominators disappear and the movie turns into one of those kinds where the audience becomes smarter than the characters on the screen. We all know Drew should be writing her story about what it means to be different and disliked which we would all like her to do to get this travesty of a film over with already. But no, we have to sit through another hour of Drew being accepted by the cool kids for no other reason than that’s what the script tells them to do.

The other problem with the movie, and movies like this in general… Alright there are a million problems with this movie, but this is the last one I’ll discuss here. KISSED totally ignores the fact that Leelee is a total babe. She doesn’t dress like the sluts do, but that doesn’t hide the fact that she’s beautiful. But I guess since The Denominators only care about grades, none of them are interested in seeing her naked.

It’s a shame that KISSED turned out to be such a nightmare. It could have been a really interesting story or a completely whacked-out comedy. Instead, it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be and it just sucked royally.