Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:25 - Released 3/9/01

The latest entry in the recent fad of teen romances based on great literature is Tommy O'Haver's Get Over It, written by R. Lee Fleming Jr. and featuring the talents of up-and-coming teen stars Kirsten Dunst (seen recently in Bring It On) and Ben Foster (Liberty Heights). Fleming's script follows a high school theatre production of William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, with the offstage action running vaguely parallel to the story of the play. Fleming, whose only previous big screen writing credit is She's All That (based on Shaw's Pygmalion), and O'Haver, who previously helmed Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998), achieve moderate success on their first collaboration, which was apparently pared down from its more racy, R-rated version in order to score a more profitable PG-13. While this film does not do anything extraordinary for its genre, it has its moments, and Dunst and Foster are able to generate reasonable chemistry in their utterly predictable situation.

There are two aspects of this film which do make it notable: the liberal use of music (there is much incidental singing and a few full-fledged musical numbers) and the inclusion of Martin Short in a comic supporting role as the play's director. Short's uncomfortably overconfident characterization, while sometimes out of sync with the rest of the cast, adds needed levity to the lovesick proceedings.

The film begins with Berke (Foster) being dumped by his lifelong friend and recent lover Allison (Melissa Sagemiller), who has found love elsewhere. The breakup scene is followed by a thoroughly enjoyable rendition of Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together," featuring an ever-growing troupe of singers and dancers following Berke as he walks away from Allison's house with a box full of his stuff. This number, at once amusing and ironically bittersweet, is so much fun it threatens to make the rest of the film look bad. As Berke is unable to "get over" the loss of Allison, he decides to try to get her back any way he can, including trying out for the school play in which she is cast as Hermia, the object of two men's affection. Also playing principal roles are Berke's platonic friend Kelly (Dunst), who secretly harbors a crush on him, and Allison's new boyfriend Striker (Shane West), a transfer student and member of a Back Street Boys-type group. West's performance is easily the worst aspect of Get Over It; his total lack of human sensibility is matched by his truly awful fake British accent. As the rehearsals go on, headed up by the mincing, never-satisfied Dr. Desmond Forrest-Oates (Short), Kelly and Berke begin their excruciatingly slow but inevitable journey toward mutual affection.

As he did with his freshman film, director O'Haver uses frequent lapses into fantasy to push the story along. While the high school students playing their parts are less than stellar actors, and Short's Forrest-Oates is little more than an amateur with delusions of grandeur, the sets and costumes are truly fabulous, so when we enter one of the many Midsummer-themed dream sequences, we are if nothing else treated to an eye-pleasing few minutes. Dunst's singing (if that's really her voice) is sweet and pleasant, and O'Haver's use of Elvis Costello's "Allison" played over the end credits is another excellent musical choice. Elements that don't work so well include a running gag about a dog that can't stop humping everything in sight and a side plot wherein Kelly's older brother tries to stop Burke from associating with her. But these are minor weak points in an otherwise reasonably satisfying (if not great) film. ***½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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