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In the lines of She's All That, Columbia Pictures brings Whatever It Takes, a teen comedy with all the cliches. The story is fairly simple, unpopular guy (Shane West) is in love with hottest girl in the school (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). His beautiful yet different female friend (Marla Sokoloff) is being adored by the hottest guy in the school (James Franco). So the unpopular guy and the popular guy team up to get the girls. They both help each other in ways that aren't normal to each other. But when the unpopular guy realizes that what he was looking for was right under his nose everything becomes chaotic. The performances are good. Nobody does a stand out job but they all do the best with what they have. The jokes are at times really funny and at times a complete waist of time. There is a lot of racy material for a PG-13 movie. Many of the sexual jokes can get pretty bad. If your a teenager I think you will enjoy this film. Whatever It Takes is a sometime enjoyable and sometime funny teen comedy with a reused plot and many teen comedy cliches. If your looking for a comedy that breaks new ground this just ain't it. But if your looking to enjoy yourself, you might just get a kick out of it.
Whatever it takes is bad, silly, predictable, stupid, and romantic, in exactly the ways it's supposed to be. It follows formula to a tee. Good production quality. The beautiful people are very, and the nerds are unmistakable. Teen gross outs. Hot fashions. Adolescent fantasy at its finest. Both a one and a ten at the same time, I have to give it a five.
I am only writing this because I think the other reviews I've seen for this
movie are far off base. "Teen flicks" in general have a tendency to play
off of the same premise with little variation or creativity, and
are--generally speaking--bad as a genre. There are a few exceptions,
paramount among them "Clueless." This film isn't as horrible and unbearable
as "10 Things I Hate About You," and I actually think it was probably a
little better than "American Pie"--although I rather disliked the latter
thus is not a very high compliment for this film either.
Quickly, to break it down, I will tell you the main problems with this film. 1) It recycles the horrible "Prom is coming up and I want to take the popular girl" premise, which seems to be the basis of many a horrible teen movie. 2) The primary conflict doesn't evolve until the movie is half over--up to that point, it is just a waste of time waiting for the primary conflict, and the action is pretty boring. 3) The end is predictable from the the first couple scenes of the movie... not a good thing. Save your money (and time), and rent something a little more original.
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.
Perhaps there's a new software product called InstaScript that's selling
in Hollywood. To make this movie, simply feed in keywords like teenager,
high school, prom, and booze. Then ensure character choices include two
females: one rich and self-indulgent, one attractive but rejected. And
males: Three jocks, three geeks, and a geek-but-jock wannabe. Next, turn
sex setting to extra-super-duper, but make sure the PG-13 button is turned
on (or who knows what may happen). InstaScript is conveniently programmed
recognize that audiences love to hate popular people, laugh at geeks
watching pornography, and cheer underdogs who get vengeance in the end.
push print and voila! Out comes a perfectly formatted script that will
impress the studio soooo much, they won't notice the missing
Instascript will do 'Whatever It Takes' to get your movie made. Note the wardrobe department will save extra dollars with costumes that use minimal fabric to clothe the star females. Notice also the scene where the girl that is willing to have sex with any man who treats her badly (a great portrayal for young female audiences to follow...) is camped on the front lawn of the guy she wants to take to the prom. The convincing way she flashes her almost naked body at him is bound to be a hit.
Meanwhile, your Miss Unpopular character will blossom into a full woman, especially when she leads her date to think she wants bondage sex on prom night. And how about that twist at the end? How could anyone guess those two would wind up together?
And you'll love the way InstaScript fills in the other 90 minutes of your script by reusing classic movie scenes. Sure, you may know about Cyrano de Bergerac's trick of telling his buddy what to say to the girl. And yes, you've seen the swimming pool idea in It's A Wonderful Life, but don't worry. Nobody coming to see the movies you make with InstaScript is going to be old or wise enough to ever suspect that the following movie has been recycled to fit their screen.
(c)2000, One Voice Communications. All rights reserved.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was just awful! It was just about the worst movie I've ever seen. It's up there w/ Win a Date w/ Tad Hamitlon & In Good Company. This movie had absolutely no point. The had Shane West as the "geek"! How could you put someone that gorgeous as a geek?!?! HONESTLY! I really hated the movie, it was cheesy lame & should have never been made. Don't watch it b/c those are important minutes of your life that you will never get back! I mean Shane goes to all these attempts to get a girl who only seems interested b/c he treats her badly. I don't understand if a guy pushed me in my pool there would be no more speaking between us! This movie is a rip off & boring. I actually might have fallen asleep a few times. The ending was just awful, and his friends were complete and total fools! I've never seen any movie so strange. The prom being themed Titanic was just insane. I really can't even put into words how badly I hated this movie. DON'T GO SEE IT. Believe me i'm helping you out!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All right, let me state first-off that I LOVE Marla Sokoloff and would do ANYTHING (including sit through "Whatever It Takes" again) for her. To underscore the depth of my devotion, let's take a peek at this film. It is the most AWFUL RIP-OFF of classic teen movies ever made. Columbia owes about a dozen studios either credits or apologies. First, we have the premise--a guy and a girl are next-door neighbours and well, sparks just might fly. They even shout at one another from opposite balconies. Where have we seen this before? "Drive Me Crazy" (Fox) of course. We also have a onetime nerd who cruelly abandons his nerd friends in order to score with a hot chick--"Drive Me Crazy" again. There's also a witchy, misandristic girl protagonist (as seen in Disney's "10 Things I Hate About You"). Even the underlying theme of the film--stud wins the heart of mousy girl, nerd wins hot babe--is a steal from Universal's classic "Sixteen Candles." Trust me, there is NOTHING original in this movie! Even the nerd with the surprise prom date ("Drive Me Crazy"), the screechy girl thrusting her yearbook into people's faces for autographs (Columbia's own "Can't Hardly Wait") and the prominence of a very unfunny penis joke early in the film ("10 Things") are blatant rip-offs. Now that I've torn this movie apart, you can't say you haven't been warned!
Hunky, handsome Shane West (as Ryan Woodman) thinks he's a "nerd". Mr.
West persuades popular James Franco (as Chris Campbell) to help him get
into sexy Jodi Lyn O'Keefe (as Ashley Grant); in return for Mr.
Franco's assistance in seducing West's sweet 'n' sexy neighbor, Marla
Sokoloff (as Maggie Carter). Think
"Cyrano de Bergerac!" Eventually,
Franco strips to his thong, and gets tied up. All of these characters
act like they are in high school
and they ARE in high school.
Obviously, they have been kept back a few years. You could laugh along
with them, if they did anything funny. So, how is West able to sleep at
night with someone like Ms. Sokoloff that close? And, visa versa...
I'd be up all night.
** Whatever It Takes (3/31/00) David Raynr ~ Shane West, Marla Sokoloff, James Franco, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe
Like those fashion ads that feature eerie celebrity doppelgangers this teen comedy is populated by ersatz versions of stars who, in this case are fairly vanilla to begin with. James Franco could be a milder Tom Everett Scott; Jodi Lyn O'Keefe resembles a less edgy Neve Campbell (a frightening thought indeed.) Two squares get hooked up with members of the cool crowd, only to discover looks aren't everything. The sweet, bland romantics are supposed to be made for each other, but it's more likely they deserve each other.
The only part of WIT it takes I liked was the set, Maggie and Ryan's balconies. That was cool, plus it had the opportunity to say the one funny part of the film was when Ryan jumps onto her porch and Maggie says the line [not gonna say it if people are reading this who haven't seen the movie]. Much better versions of this storyline were "Never Been Kissed", "She's All That" and the aforementioned "10 Things". I must admit, I was a little confused why they put great actors like Kip Pardue and Christine Lakin in bit parts while Jodi Lyn O'keefe and James Franco were starring.
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