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NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE
Unrated Extended Director's Cut

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner, Eric Christian Olsen, Deon Richmond, Dennis Quaid
Director:  Joel Gallen
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony Pictures
Features:  See Review
Length:  100 Minutes
Release Date:  July 26, 2005

“I’ll probably be a little late to pick you guys up.”

“Oh, why?  Do you have a job interview today, Daddy?”

“No, honey, I’ll probably just be WAY too drunk.”

Film **1/2

A spoof of teen movies is almost asking too much…after all, it’s a genre that has seemed to spoof itself for a lot of years now.  I grew up with the John Hughes films, and I still love them, although they’ve aged more like good curiosity pieces than as movies.  My adulthood has been spent in the backwash of the John Hughes films, which has been a long, unbroken conveyor belt of teen pictures in which all the young stars know and reference the John Hughes films.

Not Another Teen Movie is either the inevitable result of all of that, or a last ditch effort to make…yes…ANOTHER teen movie, but this time, where the only place left to go is into complete self-realization and debasement.

In other words, does it play as the spoof it is, or ironically, just as another cookie cutter entry in the genre?  It may depend on how many of the teen movies you’ve seen.  Did you watch She’s All That, Pretty in Pink, Cruel Intentions, Bring it On, Varsity Blues, The Breakfast Club and more?  If you have (and so have I), there’s probably a lot more gold in this film for you to mine for.

I laughed during this movie…loud, hard, and often.  In fact, maybe more so than during any recent comedy I can remember.  The film has a wired sense of energy from start to finish, as though the filmmakers were trying to see how many irreverent gags they could squeeze into a 90 minute film.

Is that a bad thing?  Not necessarily…but the structure of the movie is non-existent.  It’s not even a clothesline on which to hang jokes…it IS the jokes.  I admitted I laughed, but at the same time, I was aware that NOTHING in the film gelled at all.  Which leads me to the conclusion that it is actually possible to spoof yourself into almost oblivion.

The young cast is as good as any other young cast you might remember from your favorite teen films, and all the clichés are purposefully represented here:  the Pretty Ugly Girl (“DUDE!  She’s got GLASSES!  AND a PONY TAIL!”), the Popular Jock, the Nasty Cheerleader, the Foreign Exchange Student (who never wears a top), the Obsessed Best Friend, the Token Black Guy (“I’m just supposed to stay out of the conversation, smile, and say things like ‘damn’, ‘s—t’, and ‘that is WHACK!’.”, the Stupid Fat Guy, and more.  Right down to the Sensitive Guy, who’s such a perfect copy of Chris Klein in American Pie that I wonder if likeness rights had to be secured.

When the movie is funny, it’s dead on.  I loved, for example, the high school football coach (and his very limited vocabulary), the detention scene (which features a prominent special guest whom I will not reveal), the obligatory musical number, and the finale (which features ANOTHER prominent special guest whom I will not reveal…sorry).  When it’s not funny, well…

Put it this way:  a movie like She’s All That can only be lampooned for so long before you realize that you’re actually just WATCHING She’s All That all over again.  And much like that movie tried to diffuse its similarities to Pretty Woman by openly alluding to it, so does Not Another Teen Movie.  You can laugh at the spoof, but it might just nag at you to think that what you’re laughing at really doesn’t (or can’t) transcend the material it mimics.

But as I stated, what the movie sometimes lacks in quality, it tries to make up for in volume.  Didn’t laugh at one gag?  You won’t have to wait very long for the next one.  Also, for the attentive moviegoer, there are even more laughs to be had.  Look at signs all around the school (“Weird Science”, “Anthony Michael Dining Hall”) or the school name itself…John Hughes High.  Potentially, this movie probably gives you more chances to laugh for you dollar than any other. And now, with this extended unrated edition, there are 10 more minutes of eye-popping gags for your entertainment dollar.

In the end, I fall just a little short of flat-out recommending it, though I have no problem saying that if you do decide to pick this up, you’ll laugh a lot.  It’s an enjoyable, kinetic, and mostly very funny romp that just doesn’t quite come together fully under the banner it knitted for itself.  I freely admit I’ll watch it again.  Laughing at teen movies is something most of us have been doing for the past decade, anyway…Not Another Teen Movie happens to be deliriously, but amusingly, close to overkill.

Video ***

This is another fine anamorphic transfer from Sony.  The print is generally lively and colorful, with only a tad bit of occasional softness and imbalance here and there and a bit of slightly noticeable grain during mid-level lighting shots (very few and far between).  Flesh tones look natural, and detail level is generally very good, with no grain or compression evident to mar the image.

Audio ***1/2

One of the real treats of this film is the soundtrack, which contains a multitude of hard rock remakes of favorite 80s tunes, including “Somebody’s Baby”, “Don’t You Forget About Me”, “99 Luftballons” and many others…these rock the 5.1 audio and give the mostly dialogue oriented movie that extra punch.  Other unexpected scenes, like a strange Vietnam flashback, give the disc an excuse to open up the front and rear stages a little more for discreet effect.  All in all, a pleasant and dynamic listen.

Features ****

This is an outstanding features package from Sony!  For starters, there are two terrific commentaries.  The first, by director Joel Gallen and co-writer Michael Bender is enjoyable and informative.  Both talk extensively about the cast, the script, ideas they felt did or didn’t work and why, shots conceived that had to be scrapped for time, locations, and so on.  The second is a cast commentary, which is less informative but more fun…it’s like being at a cast party.  Remember, though, the movie is rated R…consider the features rated the same way.  For even more information, there is the subtitle feature “teen movie factoid track”…you should watch the film at least once with it on, because it points out every homage and every reference, which can help you get the jokes that you might have otherwise missed.

There are 18 deleted scenes, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (all fairly short, but entertaining), trailers, meet-the-cast promo spots (very funny), a yearbook feature that shows photos of the cast in action, behind the scenes and more, Joel Gallen’s first short film “Car Ride”, a montage of auditions (also very funny), the unrated version of Marilyn Manson’s “Tainted Love” video, and finally, a terrific teen movie trivia game.  It’s an interactive game with questions and answers hosted by the cast and crew.  You pick wrong, you get razzed…very clever, and quite fun.

Summary:

Not Another Teen Movie works as a collection of laughs if not as a coherent, justifiable movie.  The more you know about teen flicks, the more you’ll enjoy it.  And if you enjoyed it before, you'll enjoy the special unrated edition even more.

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