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Recycling Gone Wrong

Tucker film ought to die, too


Teenagers have no taste. “Adults” have known it for years. And as I am just now coming to grips with the fact that I am basically an adult now, I can admit that teenagers—including myself when I was in those awkward years—enjoy the most horrible, tasteless things.

Case-in-point: John Tucker Must Die. A mostly 13-through-18 crowd packed into a 402-seat theater to watch a pre-screening of the film the night before it opened. For all intents and purposes, this movie is bad. It stunk up the screen. But these pre-pubescents ate it up. They laughed. They “ooh”ed. And then they applauded the closing credits. I shook my head.

Teen-themed movies have been on a steady decline since my 10th birthday, which also hailed the end of John Hughes’ reign known as the '80s. It seems everything now is recycled. Don’t get me wrong, I love recycling. But this isn’t what Ralph Nader had in mind. Simply put, John Tucker is a sort-of She’s All That in reverse. Pretty boy basketball captain Tucker (Jesse Metcalf, ABC’s Desperate Housewives) is busted dating a triumvirate of the school’s hottest girls and, under advisement from quiet new girl, Kate (Brittany Snow, NBC’s American Dreams), they vow to get even with him.

The characters are all there: the good-looking, ass hole guy; the beautiful girl who somehow goes unnoticed; the cute-but-misunderstood pensive guy; the bitch; the slut; the brainiac; and, of course, the fat guy. Utilizing elderly “teens” is no new feat (do you recall 90210?), but casting Metcalf, at 27, and cheerleader Ashanti at 25 is a bit of a stretch. And then, 33-year-old ex-playmate Jenny McCarthy shows up as a still-makes-bad-choices-in-men-but-ultimately-doles-out-good-advice-for-our-heroine-protagonist-mother-figure. Seeing McCarthy and R&B star Ashanti in the same film solidified my opinion that this movie could (and perhaps should) have been made just to show on MTV. Hell, they don’t show music videos on there anymore, anyway.

As I struggled to make it through the movie, I couldn’t help but remember the original movies this one borrowed pieces from, and think how much better it’d all been done before. The Web cam scene from *American pie, the girl-instructs-girl kiss scene from Cruel Intentions, even the use of the song “I Want You to Want Me” from 10 Things I Hate About You. And those movies aren’t even that old. Then there’s the five-foot-eleven-inch namesake of the film doing a summersault dunk on the hardwood (an athletic feat I haven’t seen look so silly since I saw Will Smith doing Air Jordan-worthy dunks in an episode of The Fresh Prince back in the day).

The funny thing about a review like this is that if anyone saw the preview for the film, they would’ve known exactly what to expect beforehand. “Adults” will scoff and remember what a good teen movie was like. And teens themselves (which I guess can be as old as 27 now) will laugh and drool and otherwise rot their brains out, not unlike what their parents and grandparents did decades ago with Annette Funicello films and what 20- and 30-somethings did a few years back with the brat pack.