Not Another Teen Movie

"But we're brother and sister!" "Only by blood."

Not Another Teen Movie was made by smart filmmakers not afraid of people thinking that they are dumb. It’s a movie in which juvenile gross-out gags take center stage while smart little bits of throwaway humor hide just beneath the surface. Nothing here breaks new ground, instead covering the same terrain as Scary Movie and its ilk, but funny is funny is funny, and Joel Gallen’s sly little movie is funny enough. The obligatory scene in which everyone within a 5-mile radius gets sprayed with shit knocked at least half a letter grade off the rating.

The plot is as thin (non-existent) as that of Airplane! and Scary Movie, and about as relevant: it is nothing more than a deliberate assortment of teeny-bopper cliches and overdone characters. The central “storyline” parodies She’s All That and the umpteen versions of Pygmalion that have permeated (plagued?) the stage and screen. The school jock (Chris Evans) makes a bet with the school snob (Eric Christian Olsen) that he can take any girl in the school and turn her into prom queen. After rejecting various hunchbacks, cripples and other freaks of nature, they settle on the Arty Chick (Chyler Leigh) who, of course, is beautiful, but unpopular because she wears baggy pants.

Of course, Not Another Teen Movie doesn’t stop there. It also spoofs Cruel Intentions, Never Been Kissed, American Pie and countless other popular and not-so-popular, uh, teen movies. Some of it works, some doesn’t. Very little is executed with perfect precision, and it’s obvious that this wasn’t a labor of love for anyone (or else a labor of love for people who aren’t particularly talented). And yet some genuinely funny bits slip through. There’s a wonderfully non-sequitur scene where the characters break out into a deadpan musical number. In another, the jock is told that to seduce his target, he should pick a song with her name in it and sing it in front of a crowd; the song he picks is “Josie’s Got a Gun” and he sings it in a stadium.

But the really funny stuff comes in the occasional blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes that were probably inserted as afterthoughts but wind up making the movie. A down-on-his-luck loverboy runs across the street, barely escaping about twelve speeding cars headed straight for him, and is run over by a bicycle upon making it to the other side. The inevitable focus shot in which the protagonist glimpses his real love interest walking out while he is forced to dance with someone else is seen through the necks of siamese twins; I kid you not. And rival cheerleader squads have the following exchange: “Well, you better bring it!” “Oh, it’s already been broughtet!”

Though Not Another Teen Movie makes fun of every teen movie out there, the joke is really on the parody, as a lot of the films it targets are already self-conscious enough to make fun of themselves (this was also a problem when Scary Movie tried to make fun of Scream). It’s still interesting to see a movie that has no interest in a cutesy message and is so amoral-bordering-on-immoral. And “Josie’s Got a Gun.” Dear God, what a strange scene.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log

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Score: C+

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Score: B-

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Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

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Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

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The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

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Score: B

Street of Chance

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Score: C

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Im Sang-Soo, 2013

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