John Tucker Must Die (2006)
USA / English
"Don't Get Mad, Get Even
"Three ex-girlfriends of a serial cheater (Metcalfe) set up their former lover to fall for the new girl in town so they can watch him get his heart broken.
Run-of-the-mill teen comedy
You'd think that a movie called "John Tucker Must Die" will approach
the parameters of a gritty look on high school-style existentialism. As
the National Geographic Channel puts it, think again.
John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe of "Desperate Housewives") is the star of
their high school's basketball team, and he's secretly dating three
girls simultaneously. Upon learning how their "serial-cheating"
boyfriend is three-timing them, cheerleader Heather (Ashanti),
intellectual Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) and activist Beth (Sophia Bush)
plot for revenge. They set him to fall for new girl Kate Spencer
(Brittany Snow) and have her break his heart later on.
So that's "John Tucker Must Die." It's a film that tries to go for the
feel-good parts of the standard teen flick, along with the usual high
school relationship subplots. But gritty it's not. Though initially the
movie seems to head towards being an effective satirical comedy, it
immediately becomes just another stock sleaze. Betty Thomas' direction
is breezy enough but she fails to give the film a distinctive bite as
Jeff Lowell's screenplay seems not to draw a bead on to the vaguest
notion of creativity.
Metcalfe is effective as the eponymous lead while Snow (who I recall as
Zoe in "The Pacifier") could have been charming but the problematic
script doesn't give her a juicy character that could rise beyond its
stereotype and she ends up bland. In fact, one could arguably root more
for John Tucker. As for the rest of the cast, they're a mixed bag with
Ashanti and Jenny McCarthy as Kate's mom figuring prominently in my
"John Tucker Must Die" isn't so much an absolute schlock. Despite its
transparent and derivative nature, it does have some of its moments
that elicit chuckles. It's that sort of movies I watch on sleepless
nights on cable given the right mood. But with a title as toothsome as
that, it tantalizingly could have been way better.
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