Plot: What’s it about?
Jake Wyler (Chris Evans) is the most popular boy at his high school, but his cheerleader girlfriend Priscilla (Jaime Pressly) has just dumped him, for a freak with a camera no less, leaving him bummed. But he quickly makes a bet with his cocky blonde friend Austin (Eric Christian Olsen) that he can turn any girl into prom queen, even if that girl is Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh), who wears glasses, has a ponytail, and has paint stained overalls. A risk to be sure, but one Jake feels like he can handle, though he might need some help from the cruelest girl in school, Catherine (Mia Kirshner), who seeks to land him in her own bed. As Jake makes his way into Janey’s life however, he starts to realize she is more than just an art geek with unique rebellion on her mind, but will he let that stand in the way of this all important wager? At the same time, Janey battles with her internal rebellion, her younger brother and his friends try to shed their virginity, Priscilla tries to ensure her own prom queen win, and Janey’s best friend wishes to reveal his love for her after all this time. But since none of these things will happen before prom, will the most memorable night of their teen years prove to be a fairy tale, or more like a disaster?
A true staple of the cineplexes, teen comedies have always been reviled by critics, although some have managed to find some critical praise. But with the normal audiences, the genre has been a goldmine that produces a small flood of entries each year, though only a handful remain above water when all is said & done. Even those bad ones (and some would say all were bad) find an audience and if they follow the usual genre guidelines, tend to pick up an extended life on home video, if just as campish fun. As with all genres that get popular and stuck in cliches, teen comedies have now been parodied, much like westerns did with Blazing Saddles and horror movies did with Scary Movie, but is Not Another Teen Movie just another teen movie? I’d heard mixes reviews, but as a diehard fan of the genre, I think this film took all the right shots and flipped some cliches quite well, as well as proving it was the real deal, by referencing even the most obscure teen pictures. Some films get just a single music cue (like Jawbreaker), while others get multiple montages (Varsity Blues, The Breakfast Club), but most of the important genre entries are covered here. The film also never shies away from the crude humor, blue language, and nudity that used to be staples of the genre, which earned some points with me. No, not all the humor works, but Not Another Teen Movie strikes some great chords and is well worth a look, especially to fans of the genre.
In a film that exposes the conventions within a genre, you need to cast the stereotypical roles with stereotypical type performers, which is what we have here. Perhaps the best turns of casting are in smaller roles, with Eric Christian Olsen (Pearl Harbor, Black Cat Run) in a letter perfect turn as The Cocky Blonde Guy and Mia Kirshner (Exotica, The Crow: City of Angels) as The Cruelest Girl, both of whom nail the roles and greatly enhance the film as a result. Olsen would be a natural for the teen comedy circuit these days, with a presence that matches the genre to perfection, while Kirshner is smoldering and hilarious in her character also. The rest of the cast was also well chosen and includes Chris Evans, Chyler Leigh (That ’80s Show), Jaime Pressly (Can’t Hardly Wait, Poor White Trash), Deon Richmond (Scream 3, Van Wilder), Eric Jungmann (Varsity Blues, Winning London), Ron Lester (Varsity Blues, Good Burger), Randy Quaid (Christmas Vacation, Independence Day), and of course, tons of cameos and smaller roles that fit in quite well.
Video: How does it look?
Not Another Teen Movie is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Columbia is well regarded for their day & date titles and this one proves to be no exception, as the image looks clean and sharp throughout. The main element here is color, which looks vivid, bright, and often overwhelms the visuals, but this is how it is supposed to come across, so the hues are well preserved and look excellent in this treatment. I saw no quibbles to make with the black levels either, as shadow depth is dead on and no visible detail loss is evident, another superb new release visual presentation from Columbia on this one.
Audio: How does it sound?
In the true tradition of teen comedies, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix found here remains basic in function, except for the pop rock musical soundtrack. The music opens up the speakers and adds some depth to the experience, even though the film has a low key, dialogue based approach to audio, as it should be here. The vocals sound terrific and never get overpowered, while the sound effects are well covered also, just a solid, but unmemorable mix. In other words, just another teen movie soundmix and that’s what it should have been. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as English and French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is one loaded disc from Columbia, which includes not one, but two audio commentary tracks, both well worth a listen. The first track is with director Joel Gallen and one of the writers, who provide some insight into how the film came about, how it evolved, and offer a guide to some of the references found within the picture. The second track is more of a fun one, with a selection of cast members present who talk about their roles, the atmosphere during the shoot, and recall various memories from the production. This kind of movie needs a track like the latter, with jokes and humor, but the first track helps balance it all out, with more information and behind the scenes stuff, in addition to some laughs. A humor subtitle track option includes even more insight, but mostly focuses on the more subtle references, as well as reminding us when to hit pause, to soak up the on screen naked chicks. A selection of eighteen deleted scenes also make the cut here, which provide some worthwhile moments, but would have slowed down the feature too much. A trio of well made, but perhaps a little too brief behind the scenes featurettes can also be viewed, which are a cut above the usual promotional fluff seen these days. This disc also includes the unrated Marilyn Manson Tainted Love music video, a very cool The Yearbook feature, a series of Meet the Cast promo spots, a brief reel of audition tapes, Gallen’s short film Car Ride, a pop quiz on teen cinema culture, and the film’s theatrical trailer.