By Alan Scherstuhl
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Carolina Del Busto
By Amy Nicholson
By Simon Abrams
By Kevin Dilmore
By New Times
By Amy Nicholson
Making fun of the already frivolous seems a particularly profligate pastime, but it's surely a profitable one; look, only if you must, at Scary Movie, which made considerable green by proving there are indeed still people awed by light-projected moving pictures. Those who subject us to such movies (parodies of parodies, which seems such an astonishingly moot point) aren't filmmakers, but smug con artists who don't entertain and instead rely on our own knowledge of vapid pop culture to do the work for them. We're so familiar with these archetypes -- "The Pretty Ugly Girl," "The Popular Jock," "The Obsessed Best Friend," "The Cruelest Girl" and so forth -- that the filmmakers need do nothing more than drop them into high school set pieces. The film could play without sound, and we wouldn't miss a beat (or a beating).
Not Another Teen Movie, set at John Hughes High (stop, yer killin' me), is just another teen movie that swipes its central story line from, among so many others, She's All That and Whatever It Takes -- one good-looking guy (Eric Christian Olsen, generic as a bar code) bets another (Chris Evans, Freddie Prinze Jr. Jr.) he can't transform the beautiful-behind-glasses ugly-duckling outcast (Chyler Leigh, star of Kickboxing Academy) into prom queen -- and tries to divert your attention by upping the gross-out factor that made mad millions for the Farrellys and the American Pie franchise-owners. Throw in put-down send-ups of everything from Never Been Kissed to American Beauty to American Pie to Fast Times at Ridgemont High to, well, damn near any movie showing on TNT right now, and the result is a crass, dimwitted affair that culminates in a sad Molly Ringwald cameo. Seventeen years after she blew out her Sixteen Candles, Hughes' poster girl for the alienated teen has been rendered pathetic punch line in a film that shits on her best work.
The teen-film genre has already been reduced to parody: Whatever It Takes rehashed She's All That's plot (and stars, more or less) and commingled it with Valley Girl and It's a Wonderful Life; and what was American Pie if not the Hughes oeuvre baked into a fuckable crust? Not Another Teen Movie's idea of clever is just adding another pie (for Randy Quaid, the poor bastard), covering an entire classroom in diarrhea, making the Foreign Exchange Student (Areola, "played" by Cerina Vincent) run around nude the entire time and forcing Samm Levine (from Freaks and Geeks) to play the Jewish kid who thinks he's Japanese and utters lines like, "That make me kind of happy in pants." So, yeah, it's another teen movie, all right -- the worst one ever made, which may just be the point if it's the last one ever made.
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