youre wondering why Scarlett Johannson is following up her two critically
acclaimed leading roles in
Lost In Translation
Girl With A
with a supporting role in
glitzy but horribly shallow piece of teen angst exploitation, join the club.
I can only hope for her sake that this movie has been sitting around in the
can for a long time, and against her and the publics best wishes the
studios are finally letting it loose on an unsuspecting world to capitalize
on her new name recognition. If that is the case, at least she can
take solace in the fact that this is as low as her career is likely to sink
in the foreseeable future, while it is quite probably a high water mark for
this low rent
wannabe, we are introduced to six students who are thrown together because
they got low SAT scores. They have one chance to get them right, or
else they will have low scores on their permanent records and they will
undoubtedly not get into a proper college.
They may even have to (Lord have
mercy!) go to work.
The film tries to make them seem like rebels, but
they come off instead as self-centered brats who think they are
entitled to whatever they want
in life. The ring-leader is Kyle, (Chris
Evans as the Emilio Estefan
character, sort of) a reasonably good student who is still 200
SAT points short
of the cut-off to get into his goal school, Cornell. His best friend Matty
(Bryan Greenberg) is in the same boat, as is a
group of cliched, stale character types. There is Anna, the smart, stuck-up one (Erika
as the Molly Ringwald
character). Francesca is
the goofy punk girl (Johannson asked to channel Ally
Sheedy). Roy is the stoner kid
who is surprisingly smart (Leonardo Nam in a
strange but admittedly amusing meld of Judd Nelson,
Anthony Michael Hall and Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles.)
(NBA player Darius Miles) is the
star athlete and token black friend.
eminent danger of NOT GETTING INTO THE COLLEGE OF THEIR CHOICE.
(They just don't make conflicts like they used to.)
of doing the sensible thing and, you know, studying, they just sit around
and bitch about how unfair the tests are. Each one of them
film complains that the SATs are biased to be harder to blacks, women, the
poor. All these points may even be valid, and yet in making this
they forget that Kyle and Matty are none of these things.
In fact, only one of the
group of six is black, two are women and none are
all that poor. Kyles just lazy and
thinks the world owes him a living. In a scene where hes trying to
explain his point to his guidance counselor, he says that despite the fact
he has low test scores he should be allowed into Cornell because hes always
wanted to be an architect. Hell, when he was only seven he built a log
cabin with popsicle sticks. The fact that the counselor
refrains from laughing
in his face constitutes the second best example of acting in this film.
six students come upon a plan. Since theyve decided that the tests
are unfair anyway, they might as well cheat. This sets up a ludicrous
caper section where they break into the Princeton Testing
Center to steal
the answers. Its a wonderful message to convey to the youth of today
if you cant get what you want by hard work, go out and steal it.
The amazing thing is
that in the midst of all this crap, anytime the film settles on Johannson it
becomes almost worth watching. Not that her role is in any way well
written, but Scarlett invests her with a depth and gravity that most
certainly was not on the pages. That may be an acting feat even more
impressive than her work in
Lost In Translation.
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Posted: January 31,