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Melissa Joan Hart,
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Ryan (Shane West) is a bit of a geek with eyes for the school sex bomb, Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), which induces cringing in his neighbor and best friend, Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), a cute intellectual girl. But popular jock Chris (James Franco) has his eye on Maggie, and he offers to help Ryan win Ashley if Ryan will help Chris with Maggie. So begins a two-headed variation on Cyrano de Bergerac; Ryan composes soulful e-mails for Chris, and Chris advises Ryan to treat Ashley like dirt, which seems to be the only way to get her attention. At first, neither finds it easy to change their ways; Chris comes on too strong, and Ryan is too nervous to be a jerk. But as they start to succeed, Ryan begins to see Maggie in a new light and wonders if he's pursuing the right girl. He realizes Ashley is not meant for him, and tries to convince Maggie about Chris's affection for her. Maggie is reluctant to take him "back" at first, but then realizes Ryan has a change of heart. Written by
Even if it wasn't 4 years to late it would still be painfully dull
Final Score: 3.8 (out of 10)
As cliché teensploitation movies go `Whatever It Takes' is as dull as it comes. And that's really saying something given all the spit-wad plotlines screenwriter Mark Schwahn throws up against the wall hoping something - anything - will stick during this dog's drawn out running time. Not one character, situation or idea elicits the smallest laugh. The cardinal sin of comedies. Even the grating `10 Things I Hate About You' got a laugh here and there. Following in the standard prototype of the modern teensploitation movie, this generically titled movie builds it's high school setting around a work of classic literature, usually Shakespeare, and in this case `Cyrano DeBergerac'. But it's a slim basis at best, the movie takes more of it's cues from `She's All That', `10 Things' and every other teen movie of 2 years earlier where the characters scheme to get the hottest girls in school, high school is divided sharply on clique based stereotypes and the world of every character of every clique revolves around. (dun, dun, dun) the prom.
The one thing `WiT' does right is the casting. The movie is almost watchable by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and Marla Sokoloff prancing around as the `hot girls'. O'Keefe sends the guilty pleasure meter through the roof in a few juicy freeze-frame scenes. The always adorable Sokoloff even manages to escape with her dignity, which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast including Shane West, James Franco (`Freaks and Geeks'), poor talented Richard Schiff (`The West Wing') as the `PE teacher` and Julia Sweeney in a particular embarrassing role as West's mother/flamboyantly liberal Sex Ed teacher.
Every once in a while I start to think one of these movies might have something satirical to say, maybe offer some honest or insight on the high school caste system. Alas, it's not to be as our hero (West) does things that no normal teen would do following the script's phony teen character to a T. Some of the jokes are even so dated one wonders if the movie were delayed a few years. The prom night finale involves a painfully unfunny riff on 'Titanic' (1997!) and around that we've got geeks pulling vandalism stunts, `the most popular girl in school' turning out to be a bitch and a pseudo-climactic race to stop `the most popular guy in school' from implementing his `Sail and Bail' policy on the sweet girl despite everybody knowing full well that she's to smart to fall for it.
All of this drags at an uneven pace at the hand of director David Raynr; feeling like an epic at barely over 90 minutes. It's true teensploitation - constructed in equal parts by a Hollywood contempt for the teenage demographic on full display by Raynr and Schwahn here and a teen audience that gobbles this stuff up again and again. It's got a decent guilty pleasure factor, but you can only get so many miles out of Jodi in the shower before even I want something more.
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