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FILM REVIEW **: ...John Tucker Must Die... A Classic Teen Comedy

Wait For the DVD

By Jillian Berry

“John Tucker Must Die” Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, and Jenny McCarthy

Directed by: Betty Thomas

Rated PG-13

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“John Tucker Must Die” is the story of four girls who attempt to bring down the coolest guy in school. In the film, Kate (Brittany Snow) has just moved to a new town, after yet another of her mother’s (Jenny McCarthy) disappointing relationships fails. In fact, her mother has so many failed relationships that Kate does not even bother to learn the men’s names; instead she calls them all Skip, since that’s what they do in the end. Not only does she move a lot, making it difficult to make new friends, but she is always overshadowed by her beautiful mother, and she thus feels invisible.

In the new town, Kate quickly learns about John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) – the most popular guy in school, a star basketball player, with looks that could easily qualify him to be an Abercrombie model. However, he is also a promiscuous dater, as Kate discovers early on. When she first meets him, he is simultaneously going out with Heather (Ashanti), the head cheerleader; Carrie (Arielle Kebbel), the straight A student who is the head of nearly every club; and Beth (Sophia Bush), the vegan animal rights activist. Soon after Kate moves into town, the three girls discover that they are not John Tucker’s only girlfriend. After finally becoming visible, Kate’s help is enlisted by the girls in order to bring down John Tucker. What follows is a series of plans the girls enact (without much success) to embarrass John Tucker. However, they soon realize what they really need is to break his heart, so they help Kate win him over so that she can destroy him. During this process, Kate becomes the most popular girl in school, but she is not sure that she has not lost herself as she has become more visible.

Let’s be honest, this movie is not really award-worthy. Actually, it is not even as insightful or funny as teen classics like “Clueless,” “Mean Girls,” or “10 Things I Hate About You.” Instead, the movie is a simple teen comedy that focuses on girl power. Once you accept this, then the experience is actually fairly enjoyable. The movie gets right into the story, and it flows easily with the help of a good soundtrack. While “John Tucker Must Die” is completely unrealistic, especially when we are told to believe that Brittany Snow could be invisible, it does not try to hide this fact. The jokes are still funny, and some of the plans the girls conceive are rather ingenious (I know I could never think of them).

The characters (like the movie) are formulaic, but the actors embrace the stereotypical nature of their roles. My particular favorite is Arielle Kebbel as Carrie. Maybe I just relate most to her, since she’s the closest to an MIT student, but she is forceful in her role without overacting the part. Even in her geekiest moments, you do not doubt that she could date the most wanted man in school. In addition, Jesse Metcalfe makes the movie work as he completely embodies John Tucker. He has an ease about him that can make the audience like and hate him at the same time. You never know if he is being genuine, or just acting genuine to suit his needs. At first I thought his slippery character was a flaw in his acting, but by the end of the movie I realized it is crucial to the character.

The movie has a (very) slight twist at the end, but that will probably not keep it from becoming one of the scores of forgotten teen movies. While I wouldn’t necessarily pay $10 to see it in the theaters, I would recommend the DVD when it is released. Definitely watch it with a group of girlfriends, and let yourself (and your brain) just enjoy.