While such thoughts are probably foreign to teens who haven't had the experience and/or time to develop such personal reflections, that's somewhat of the thrust behind "Never Been Kissed," the latest teen-based romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore.
A mostly enjoyable, but extremely flimsy romantic comedy that crumbles under the slightest scrutiny, the film somewhat succeeds, but only due to the sheer charm and winning ways of lead actress Barrymore ("Ever After," "Home Fries"). Perfectly portraying the geek character in a funny and endearing fashion, Barrymore is the only reason to see this film that without her would otherwise be instantly forgettable.
Quite similar in structure to the 1985 film, "Just One of the Guys" where another aspiring female journalist similarly goes undercover at a high school -- this time in the guise of a male student -- this picture doesn't offer nearly as many complications -- comedic or romantic -- and plods along with only a few moderately entertaining moments.
The most notable and successful of them involve flashbacks to Josie's early high school years as well as a scene set in the present where she unknowingly manages to have the word "loser" printed on her forehead as she walks around her high school much to the delight of the other students. Unfortunately, such moments are few and far between.
The film is also reminiscent of a plot element from "Peggy Sue Got Married" where Kathleen Turner gets to return to her own high school years (via a time traveling dream) and relive them through an adult's perspective. Sadly, director Raja Gosnell ("Home Alone 3") who works from a less than inspired script from first-time screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, has only included one such joke and subsequently wasted a great deal of comic potential.
Of course to be fair, Barrymore's character is only seven years out of high school and hasn't changed her clumsy, geeky ways. Nonetheless, the filmmakers could have used that comic potential, but instead have let it slip through their cinematic fingers. Similarly, they thus miss the chance for the film to play better to audiences long since graduated, as well as the potential for showing how high school life changed over the years (although they do briefly include a shot of some hallway metal detectors).
What's really missing, though, is the much needed comedic and romantic complications that would have made the film much better. While some minor ones are marginally present -- Josie and her teacher fall for each other and there's the constant, but barely used threat of her and her brother's identities being discovered, there's just not that much present to keep things interesting.
At least in "Just One of the Guys" there was the constant need for the protagonist to hide her gender, as well as plenty of romantic complications involving her initial boyfriend and another guy she falls for who thinks she's really a guy herself. Alas, little of that fun material is present here.
Instead, we're treated to more stereotypical, snobby and otherwise one-dimensional student characters and some unbelievable moments such as director Garry Marshal as the newspaper's editor who assigns a copywriter to do a major story, an English Literature teacher presiding over a sex-ed class to name just a few, and the newspaper wiring Jessie with a miniature surveillance camera so that they can watch her every move.
Beyond Barrymore's fun take, the film's other performances are delivered with mixed results. David Arquette ("Ravenous," the "Scream" films) has fun with his character's return to high school, while Molly Shannon ( TV's "Saturday Night Live"), John C. Reilly ("Boogie Nights") and Michael Vartan ("The Myth of Fingerprints") are all adequate, but certainly not very memorable in their roles.
The only standout is Leelee Sobieski ("Deep Impact," "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries") who continues to look ever more like a young Helen Hunt with every subsequent film (and is a shoo-in for "Mad About You: The Early Years" should that ever be made). Portraying a smart and confident young woman, Sobieski is a breath of fresh air in a sea of otherwise unremarkably stereotypical teen roles and performances.
Nonetheless, Barrymore's oozing charisma, charm and the ability to laugh at herself in a less than glamorous role makes up for much of the film's deficiencies. Despite its predictable, romantic comedy nature, and its structural problems and lackluster plot development, the film still manages to be somewhat guiltily entertaining and even manages to throw in an effective, sentimental ending. Certain to please less-discerning die-hard romantic comedy fans, the film is enjoyable in its own lightweight, bubble-gum way, but could and should have been much better. As such, we give "Never Been Kissed" a 5 out of 10.
Oh boy. *cracks knuckles* It’s time for Never Been Kissed. One interesting thing about the time period in which I grew up is I feel like I’m experiencing ALL the different kinds of media. Like, I had cassingles, I had VHS tapes, I had records, then DVDs and CDs and now Blu-rays and MP3s and digital downloads. (Though I suppose the real boss people would have also had 8-tracks and laserdiscs but I at least KNEW what they were, you know? Anyway…)
There are a couple movies I’ve only owned on VHS and then Blu-ray: Titanic, Independence Day and Never Been Kissed. Let me tell you, I ALWAYS check the $5 Blu-ray section at Target to see what they have. This was my most recent purchase and before that it was Romeo + Juliet so you better believe that’s gonna be my next post.
Fun fact: obviously we know Jessica Alba is in this movie but did you remember Octavia Spencer and John C. Reilly and JAMES FRANCO are in it too? James Franco was a SURPRISE for me on this most recent viewing.
Here are five ways Never Been Kissed ruined my life:
1. My Heart Swells When I Hear “Don’t Worry Baby”
Oh, brother. I’m getting all sweaty just thinking about this. (TMI?)
Look, I get that the relationship in this movie is a little questionable because Michael Vartan thinks Drew Barrymore is in high school – but she’s NOT in high school so really, it’s fine. He never kisses her or makes advances at her or anything outward. He just DEFINITELY flirts with her and I’m DEFINITELY into it.
Ugh, I mean, ugh. Once she’s standing on the mound and the time runs out and you’re like, “WHERE ARE YOU MICHAEL VARTAN?!?” and then people start cheering and he is RUNNING towards her. I’m dead. I can’t handle it and I’m every single person on tumblr reacting to everything. My face is a series of gifable expressions and I can’t control my emotions. Sorry.
2. This Quote About Kissing
“That thing, that moment, when you kiss someone and everything around you becomes hazy. And the only thing in focus is you and this person and you realize that that person is the only person that you’re supposed to kiss for the rest of your life. And for one moment you get this amazing gift and you want to laugh and you want to cry because you feel so lucky that you found it and so scared that that it will go away all at the same time.”
This movie came out my freshman year of high school and this quote was all I wanted to have happen. Ever. That feeling. And it’s stuck with me for a really long time.
3. “I’m Not Josie Grossie Anymore!” Still Seems Like The Best Pep Talk
I think we all need this pep talk sometimes. We all had awkward periods. A lot of times surrounding whenever you had braces – that was certainly an awkward one for me. My worst period was the end of 5th grade (after getting braces on) until like mid-8th grade. Starting in the middle of 8th grade I got my IDGAF attitude back and didn’t worry about people AS MUCH. But as someone who used to get teased a lot in middle school I LOVE proclaiming, “I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!”
It’s really partly not being an awkward phase of life and MOSTLY self-acceptance and self-understanding. And that’s a lesson we all could use.
4. Always Think of Josie When Someone Says They’re ‘Nauseous’
Okay, that person is me. I’m the person who always complains about nausea. And every time I say I’m nauseous I think, “You KNOW it’s nauseated. Say nauseated.” But by then I’m usually just eating saltines to cure it and have forgotten all I learned from Josie.
One of my favorite things in this movie is how Josie, the brilliant copy editor, is constantly correcting everyone’s grammar. And Leelee Sobieski’s character even knows she’s changed when Josie says “I must have forgot” instead of “I must have forgotten.” So great.
You’re nauseated. I’m nauseated. I’ll try to hold up your grammar lessons, Josie.
5. Was Terrified I’d Have to Put a Condom on a Banana
You know how in movies and TV shows and books kids will have to take care of an egg or a bag of flour as if it was a kid? I was terrified of doing that. I’d rather care for an actual baby than have to take care of a bag of flour. I think my problem was mainly that since it was a school assignment (in my head) I knew I’d take it seriously and also knew my classmates might not.
Anyway, in Never Been Kissed they have to put condoms on bananas in health class and I was MORTIFIED. Mortified and also convinced this is what I’d have to do in health class one day. Luckily, this never happened but watching this scene again brought back all those same anxieties.
And in case we ever forgot, these girls have perfect selfie techniques.
Don’t worry baby…
(Main image via, stills from the movie screengrabbed by me)