Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:31 - Released 3/24/00

You know, I understand that teen romance films are not expected to be award winners. Since teens are the biggest market share of the moviegoing public, it's natural that Hollywood production companies would regularly slap together a film about high school kids, aimed at high school kids, to make a quick buck from the unsuspecting adolescent population. But sometimes, at least, they attempt to achieve a semblance of quality. Not so for Whatever It Takes, directed by David Hubbard (wisely using his fake name, David Raynr), a slap-dash, half-assed production not worth the celluloid it's printed on. There is not a single believable character in Mark Schwahn's eminently predictable script; not a distinguished moment in any of the actors' ever-so-stock performances, and not a shred of honesty to Hubbard's hackneyed presentation. This is the kind of low-rent trash that is ripe for ridicule by late-night TV movie hosts. Watch for it; it'll be on TNT in about two months.

In yet another story about high school kids who are so obsessed with getting laid in time for prom that everything else in their world falls by the wayside, we have the four old standby characters: Ryan (Shane West), the Shy Nice Guy, is in lust with Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), the Sexy Head Cheerleader, and confides about this to his next door neighbor and childhood friend Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), the Smart Plain Girl. But Ryan doesn't have a chance with Ashley because she doesn't know he exists. Enter Chris (James Franco), the Conceited Jock, who is Ashley's cousin. Chris is attracted to Smart Plain Girl Maggie, but she is turned off by his Conceited Jock demeanor. So Chris makes a deal — he will teach Ryan to act like a Conceited Jock and thereby get Ashley's attention if Ryan will help him be a Shy Nice Guy so he can win Maggie's favor. Soon Ryan is playing football and getting flattened by what appears to be a team of 35-year-old men, and Chris is volunteering at the nursing home with Ryan hiding behind the curtain feeding him lines like Cyrano de Bergerac. Needless to say, the ending is obvious within the first two minutes.

This film is based on the principle that teenage guys want sex so badly they are willing to become the antithesis of their normal personalities to do so, and teenage girls are so stupid that they fall for such a sham. But besides the basic stupidity of the story and the worn-out stereotypes inhabiting it, there are also numerous instances of irresponsible directing choices made simply to further the plot, choices that reflect a total lack of interest in credibility or consistency. Whatever It Takes is a soulless, classless endeavor on Raynr's part, designed for the single purpose of acquiring the pocket cash earned by teenagers at supermarkets and fast food restaurants all over the country. It's a pointless, stupid waste of time, and an insult to the viewer's intelligence. *

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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