John Tucker Must Die
Have you ever watched one
of those dumb daytime talk shows in which a group of desperate women
yell each other down and bitch-slap each other over some smirking loser of a
guy? They argue about whose man he is, who keeps him happier in the
kitchen and the bedroom, who had him first and how he claims each is the
only one. All the while, the guy sits in the middle of the catfight, a
weird look on his face which is a mixture of embarrassment and pride (okay,
mostly pride), watching these stupid women taking all their anger out on
each other when he is the one cheating on them.
John Tucker Must Die
is a sanitized, Hollywood version of this Jerry Springer staple.
The principals are much more beautiful than the talk show losers (then
again, who isn't?), they are smarter (again, who isn't?) and funnier (ditto) -- and
yet they fall deep into the same basic trap as the toothless trailer trash.
Anything dirty or unseemly
is bleeped away, in an attempt to hold onto this film's PG-13 tweeny-bopper
audience. Instead of a scratch fight, this film ends up with a food
fight. (Note to screenwriters: No food fight has been funny since
National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978 -- and that one was only humorous
because they cut away seconds into it.)
Then again, this movie
really never has the courage of it's convictions. It lures you in with
a brave, disturbing title John Tucker Must Die. However, no
sign of this disturbed passion is on display in the actual film. Three
spurned lovers do not want to kill John, they want to embarrass him.
The funny thing is the
movie mostly works, probably because it has some very likable young stars, a
charmingly offbeat manner and
a surprisingly open-minded world view.
Jesse Metcalf (Eva
Longoria's hunkish gardener in Desperate Housewives) is the title
character who isn't going to die anytime soon. He is handsome,
charming, rich, lucky, the local basketball star and a notorious lothario. Women
throw themselves at him, so he takes advantage of the attention.
The conflict comes when
three very different, very popular girls from separate cliques, find out
they are all dating loverboy. There is Carrie -- the smart, adorable blonde who
is involved in all school activities (Arielle Krebbel of American Pie:
Band Camp and Gilmore Girls gives this character much more depth
than is written.) Sophie Bush (of One Tree Hill) is very funny
as the local slut, Beth. Pop
star Ashanti offers attitude to spare but little else in her role of
beautiful-but-stuck-up head cheerleader. Her acting is about as
accomplished as her singing is. You can take that statement any way
Instead of blaming him,
they all lay into each other. They finally join together when they
meet Kate, a shy new girl (Brittany Snow of American Dreams) who sees
through John's rap. The four decide that they will destroy Tucker's
reputation and break his heart by turning Kate into the perfect girl then
having her dump him flat. Problem is she is inexperienced and may be
vulnerable to his charms. Double problem is she actually kind of
likes John's outcast little brother, who obviously has a crush on her --
however unlike his brother he will never, it seems, have the self-confidence
to let her know.
This leads to a funny if a
little predictable series of scams designed to shame John. However,
due to his unassailable luck, Tucker is always able to turn the tide and
make it all work out for him. In an interesting twist, in
the end the movie allows for the possibility that John Tucker was actually
always more emotionally connected and kind than the girls who targeted him;
who come off looking superficial.
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Posted: July 21, 2006.