Volume 93, Issue 94
Tuesday, March 28, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Teen flick missing what it takes
Photo by Frank Masi
"HERE SOME OF MY DRINK. DID I MENTION I'M A HORRIBLE ACTRESS?" Marla Sokoloff and James Franco tug at the heartstrings of idiots everywhere in Whatever It Takes, a horrible film made for horrible people.
By Rebecca Morier
Whatever it Takes is proof that the world needs another contrived teen flick like it needs global warming and mass murderers. Admittedly, an occasional film from the myriad of teen fare offers a glimmer of inventiveness, however, this film is not one of them.
You've seen this story before two boys, two girls, an impending prom night something's about to happen. High school senior Ryan Woodman (Shane West), the smart-yet-sensitive boy next door, falls for the popular girl Ashley Grant (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), a spoiled and shallow knockout. Enter the jock, Chris (James Franco), who targets Ryan's best friend Maggie (Marla Sokoloff) as his next sexual conquest. Chris and Ryan strike a mutually beneficial deal to help one another woo their respective dream girls in the four weeks before graduation.
What follows is a somewhat intriguing montage of scripted phone calls, plotted dates and fake emails. To plant the seeds of romance, Ryan plots Chris' new "Mr. Sentimental" veneer, while Chris, in turn, ups Ryan's popularity rating. As expected, Ashley and Maggie become smitten long enough for the boys' delicate web of deception to untangle.
Although plot alone does not determine a film's worth, Whatever it Takes does not offer much more to engage the audience. The few potentially funny moments are quickly undercut by the story's inevitability. Comedic events are contrived and cliché and the jokes and one-liners are trite.
As for the film's redeeming qualities, there simply aren't any. The cast carves out competent performances that are sadly undermined by the lack of development of their on-screen personas. The film offers no more than the usual fare of stock characters the charming hero and heroine, the brainless jock, the ditzy bombshell and the bumbling blockheads. The result is a futile effort on the part of the cast, because as we know all too well, you can't make beer out of beer nuts.
In addition to conforming to an insipid and tiresome storyline, Whatever It Takes tries to be too many things. It is unsure of what it wants to be as a film, so it doesn't become much of anything. It lies somewhere between teen romance, farcical comedy and coming-of-age sentimentality.
The film has everything you would expect from a prom night catastrophe to the type of sexual innuendos that make 13 year-olds blush, not to mention the awkward profession of teen love and the allusions to Romeo and Juliet. Calling this film cheesy would be offensive to cheddar.
The main problem with Whatever it Takes is its predictability. It follows in the footsteps of other bubble gum flicks and doesn't make the slightest attempt to take the road not travelled. With the teen market booming, one can understand why yet another cookie cutter movie was made but that doesn't excuse it. The last thing today's teenagers need is yet another portrayal of "normal" adolescence from Hollywood's perspective.
The film might succeed in terms of capitalizing on the size of its target audience, but it certainly failed to do whatever it takes to make a remotely worthwhile film.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000