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   NEVER BEEN KISSED (1999) 

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CAST
Drew Barrymore
David Arquette
Michael Vartan
Molly Shannon
John C. Reilly
Garry Marshall
Leelee Sobieski
Jeremy Jordan
Sean Whalen
Jessica Alba

DIRECTED BY
Raja Gosnell

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 107 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romantic Comedy/High School


I happen to be a fairly big fan of Drew Barrymore's. She has an effervecense and charisma onscreen that's usually hard to ignore or discount. Is she a brilliant actress? Not always. But she is one that can carry a film on her honesty and sweetness. Plus she can be really funny. Which she is at points throughout this film. Unfortunately, they're too few and far between. She's too busy being quirky and nerdy. Bad clothes and jerky mannerisms does not a character make. She plays a grown woman with the maturity of a teenager. How could she get through college and land a job at a major newspaper with a personality like this? It just doesn't add up. There are other ways they could have shown that Josie Gellar was a total geek in high school, without the flashbacks to Drew in bad hair and braces. If she was that stunted by her first high school experience she never would have been able to succeed at all.

I'm not saying she should have been this wildly succesful woman, but I couldn't believe a 25-year-old being intimadated by a bunch of bratty 16-year-olds. She should have known better. That her interactions with them would make her uncomfortable due to her past torture at the hands of such kids was totally believable. That she was still a geek even as an adult I could buy. That their opinion should matter at all, I don't think so. They're children for god sakes. This is the chance she's been waiting for, to prove herself as a reporter. The fact that she has to be saved by everyone and her brother is just pathtetic. It's no wonder she got picked on. The film is about how Josie, a copy editor for the Chicago Sun Times gets a second chance to be one of the cool kids and achieve her dream of becoming a reporter all at the same time. She is enrolled in a local high school to do an undercover investigation about teens and their hopes, dreams and hijinks.

The catch is, if she doesn't get a fantastic story both she and her boss will lose their jobs. Her initial attempts to befriend the cool girls are disasterous. She quickly becomes the class joke and is well on her way to being completely ostracized for the second time, when she is rescued by the brainiac crew. She fits right in with them and even begins to enjoy herself. But the stories are not found amongst the geeky kids and she is forced to leave their "protection" to get a decent story. She also starts to fall in love with her English teacher, Mr. Coulson (Michael Vartan), and I have to admit that part of the story I could totally believe. It made me wish I hadn't gone to a Catholic High School, so I could have male teachers like that.


"All you need is for one person to think you're cool, and you're in."

Thanks to her brother Rob (Arquette), she soon becomes one of the popular girls, drawing the interest from Guy (Jeremy Jordan) the class hunk. You'd think that once she passed over she would blossom into a more attractive and confident woman, but that doesn't really happen. She's still horribly awkward, it's just now passed off as cute and endearing. Whatever. Needless to say, she eventually gets asked to the prom by Guy, which we're supposed to believe is a big deal to her, but why should she care when she's not even remotely interested in him as boyfriend material. Yeah, it would be an ego boost to an extent to finally have the cool guy want to go out with you. The problem is he's only 17-years-old and she's in love with her teacher. So why would it really matter? The message of the film is to accept yourself and others for who they are because what happens in high school means nothing when you get to the real world. So, we had to sit through an hour and a half of Josie being humiliated to come to a realization we knew all along? Hello? Anybody out there?

It would have been much more interesting to me if she was still an outcast when she arrived, but used her own personal experience to win these kids over instead of relying on her "popular" brother to get her into the cool crowd. She's supposed to be a intelligent, albeit mousy and shy, woman, but we never get to see that side of Josie. All we get is a blithering idiot who trips alot and can't put a full sentence together when around the school dreamboat. She obviously has a lot to offer, otherwise the teacher would not have been interested in her. How he waded through the inanity is magic only found in the movies. Drew and Michael Vartan have real chemistry, but it's not given the chance to grow into anything substantial. Yes I rooted for her in the end, but I very disappointed in the development of this character.

Despite all the problems with this story, Drew still manages to be quite endearing and funny. I just wish most of the time you were laughing with Josie instead of at her. It's like the last 7 years of her life never happened. I kept wondering how this person actually graduated from an ivy league college. The rest of the cast did an OK job as well, but except for Vartan, they weren't really able to be more than caricatures of people we've seen a million times before. I give the movie an A for effort, but a C for execution. If you like Drew and movies about high school then you'll probably like this film. Otherwise it's definitely something you can catch on a rainy day on cable.



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