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Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Viewed: 12/14/01 by Qubert

To begin, let us be perfectly honest -- this little film will not earn its director a lot of fans. Certainly, the critics rushed to pooh-pooh it (sorry, couldn’t resist the play on words -- see the film). They’re calling Not Another Teen Movie contrived, crude, unimaginative, and generally unfunny. Viewers exit the theater feeling lost amidst the myriad generation-spanning references. Adolescent males may love it. But then again, they may not, as it perhaps avoids one or two opportunities to indulge in sex or toilet humor (another play on words from the film -- somebody stop me!). Nostalgia buffs will likely recoil at the crass treatment of their hallowed cinematic memories.

Who remains to enjoy the film? Me! Like the Roger Ebert of my generation, I will stand before you and trumpet this critical failure. Silly, plotless, low-brow -- true. But entertaining for one in the right mindset. I may have been the only reviewer, gentle reader, in that mindset, and I intend to share it with you!

Still, never let it be said I fear the truth. The whole Not Another Teen Movie cast(Well, I do fear it, but never let it be said. . .) So first, the bad: In many ways, this film surpasses Scary Movie, Me Myself & Irene, American Pie, and other gross-out films of their ilk. You get an excrement storm nastier than the Golgothan in Dogma. You get implied incest and other obscure sex practices. You get a sticky, slobbery make-out scene between a young girl and an old woman -- points must go to the writers (all five of them) for turning the male girl-on-girl fantasy on its head, though. You get some odd scenes of conjoined twins. And while we must again applaud the writers for pushing the Shannon Elizabeth-esque exchange student in the Emperor’s-New-Clothes direction, Areola still goes over the top.

Gross-outs and shock-fests aside, the story has no plot to speak of, either. But neither does Airplane, the king of spoof films (and one I hope to never see again after seventy-eleven-jillion viewings). What could be seen as a coherent main theme comes basically from She’s All That: John Hughes High School popular boy Jake Wyler gets dumped by his girlfriend and bets his friends he can turn a loser into prom queen; the “loser” is dirt poor Janey Briggs, a pony-tailed, glasses-wearing self-described rebel who listens to Bikini Kill and eats tofu. The main characters are surrounded by sub plots that exist simply to spoof and provide references. The kids are all stereotypes, just like the films they parody. My favorite has to be Bruce, the white boy who wants to be Asian and talks like Long Duc Dong (anybody spot the reference? Too slow; it’s Seth Green, the gangsta wannabe from Can't Hardly Wait.) But while we’re on the negatives, I think Malik the Token Black Guy, while funny, pushes the race button a bit.

I don’t want to dwell on the bad, though -- every other reviewer has done so. Let me tell you what I liked! While one of the weaknesses of the film is it’s episodic nature, as if the director and writers strung together a bunch of scenes to see how much they could include, that aspect brings some of the funniest scenes, too. One of the most amusing characters is Ricky (based on the immortal and ill-treated Ducky). In a scene from 10 Things I Hate About You (see what I mean about generation spanning, by the way? We have a Pretty in Pink character acting out a scene from a film two years old. How many kids today have seen the Molly Ringwald classic? And almost no one I know my age has seen 10 Things, one of the hippest and cleverest teen comedies ever. But I digress. . .). Anyway, it’s funny when he reads his obsessed love poem, and everyone groans “Not again”. It’s funny when Ricky gets run over by a bunch of cyclists yelling “2 dollars!” It’s funny when Janey angrily throws paint all over a canvas and then we see what she has created.

But the film’s greatest strength is the way it puts the ALL in teen nost-AL-gia. You heard me. If you can think of it, you can find it here. Since most of you won’t be seeing this picture, anyway, here is a list of as many film-references as I can recall right now.

  1. She’s All That -- “Look at her! Disgusting! Glasses! A pony-tail! And she’s got paint on her overalls!”
  2. Can’t Hardly Wait -- Is that the little sister from Party of Five playing Amanda? A little too ironic? Yeah, I really do think. . .
  3. 16 Candles -- Jake (duh!) drives a red Porsche 944.
  4. 10 Things I Hate About You -- “Dad says if you don’t date, I can’t have sex either.”
  5. Pretty in Pink -- Janey makes her own pink prom dress.
  6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off -- “I’m going to steal your antique Ferrari. . .”
  7. Never Been Kissed -- compare Sadie’s outfit to Drew Barrymore!
  8. American Pie -- “Let’s make a pact.” “We always make that pact!”
  9. Cruel Intentions -- evil nympho-sister. (excellent SMG impersonation from Mia Kirschner, by the way.)
  10. Risky Business -- “No parties, Son.”
  11. Fast Times At Ridgemont High -- I counted 5 outstanding and fairly subtle references to the film.
  12. Bring it On -- “It’s already been broughten.”
  13. Varsity Blues -- hugely fat country-boy lineman.
  14. Can’t Buy Me Love -- I defy you to catch that one.
  15. Breakfast Club -- this whole scene is genius, including the Paul Gleason rehash of his Principal role and the pimento loaf falling off the sculpture.
  16. Grease -- "You would never guess that everyone at this school is a professional dancer.”

Shall I continue? I also caught Jawbreaker, Better Off Dead, and Porky’s. How about references to films that are not really teen films, like American Beauty, Almost Famous, and Rudy? Throw in an appearance by Molly Ringwald, amusing sight-gags like the name of the dining hall and the marquee on the front of the school, classic teen-movie songs redone by contemporary artists, and a come-from-nowhere musical number (Grease? West Side Story?), and we have a recipe for chuckles between the shocks and groans.

In closing, I reiterate that I like it. Not Another Teen Movie is definitely just another bad spoof. But it’s a genre close to my heart and a style that engages the trivia part of my brain in the same way that Austin Powers, Urban Legend, and Galaxy Quest did -- I like to try and spot the references. Give it a try -- you might enjoy it. . .

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