Rating: R for sex, language, more sex, and more language
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Nothing beats the holiday blues like a healthy dose of skewered convention, especially when it comes to the clichés of the genre we love to hate. This, however, is an unfortunate reminder of why we hate it.
Loosely based on the Freddie Prinze, Jr. comedy “She’s All That”, NATM manages a wink and a nudge to an infinite list of teen classics including “The Breakfast Club”, “Bring It On”, “Grease”, and “Risky Business”. Not to mention touch-of-class homages to “American Beauty” and “Almost Famous”.
It’s Pygmalion for the under-17 set as the Big Man on Campus (Chris Evans as Jake Wyler) makes a bet with his bad boy best buddy that he can turn the homeliest girl in school into the prom queen. The ugly girl (Chyler Leigh as Janey Briggs) is a ghastly vision of unsightly specs, unflattering ponytail, and paint-splattered overalls (the horror!). Her pearly whites, luminous brown eyes and flawless skin go unnoticed. After a series of comic misunderstandings which involve jealous ex-girlfriends and adolescent folly, boy falls for girl, and realizes (almost too late!) that Beauty’s Only Skin Deep and that Teens Have Feelings, too.
The going gets nasty early on, with a full-blown masturbation scene that sets the raunchy tone for a torturous string of punchy sight gags. Plot pokes fun at incest, Siamese twins, and Tourettes - nothing is sacred, nor is it particularly funny. Scatological bathroom humor runs rampant. An ingenious musical number is an unexpected treat, but it’s a mere interlude to the brainless lust and narcissistic chicanery. Performances are refreshingly guileless.
Film gleefully earns its R rating tenfold – seriously pushing the acceptable limits of nudity, language, and bad taste. Nothing like a vulgar teen comedy to whet a dry holiday whistle, but I’ll take mine with a splash of humor.