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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"No, no, no, anyone but her! Not Janey Briggs! She's got glasses and a ponytail! Aw, look at that, she's got paint on her overalls, what is that? Guys, there's no way she could be prom queen!"
DVD ReviewSince the 1950s, when movies like Rebel Without a Cause and the Z-grade drive-in flicks proved the existence of the lucrative teen movie audience (indiscriminate taste and extraneous cash), the genre has produced its share of classics, and its much larger share of tripe. Not Another Teen Movie, a spoof in the tradition of Top Secret!, aims a satirical laser beam at the formulaic teen romances of the 1980s and '90s, and not surprisingly, a movie spoofing movies that are, for the most part, uninspired and dull, turns out to be pretty uninspired and dull itself.
In much the same way that Scary Movie follows the plot of Scream while going off on tangents to spoof other horror films, Not Another Teen Movie lifts its plot structure from the 1999 semi-success She's All That, which I saw in the theater with my grandma of all people. The Popular Jock makes a bet with his friends (the Stupid Fat Guy and the Token Black Guy) and has one week to turn the Pretty Ugly Girl into prom queen.
The danger in parodying teen movies (at least, the 1990s films that are the chief target here) is that they are already somewhat self-parodying, especially something like American Pie, which was a conscious homage itself to the John Hughes films of the '80s. Not Another Teen Movie actually does a pretty good job of pointing out genre stereotypes (like the "rebel" girl who everyone thinks is ugly due to her unsightly ponytail and glasses), but whenever it tries to actually emulate them, it fails miserably. Thus, the characters' spouting of self-aware dialogue ("You'll lose that bet, but learn a valuable life lesson in the process, and actually win, but in life!") amuses, but the attempts at gross-out humor (like a tasteless toilet gag) that are intended to stand alone are, appropriately, pretty crappy.
Much of the humor is hit or miss, and all of it requires extensive knowledge of the source material. For every parody that works (including a Bring It On spoof, where the white cheerleaders deny they've stolen their routines from the black cheerleaders, even though it contains the phrases, "we black, we know it" and "we ain't white, we ain't white, we definitely ain't white" and the spot-on spoof of the incestual elements of Cruel Intentions and its bad girl played by Sarah Michelle Geller), there are two that don't, and are poorly conceived in the first place. I mean, why does Varsity Blues warrant an entirely too long football scene that serves only to bring the film to a grinding halt? After all, there's no way someone making fun of James Van der Beek can actually be more pathetic that the actual James "Forehead" Van der Beek.
Director Joel Gallen keeps things moving, and the cast is likeable enough, but the movie just isn't all that funny. I appreciated a lot of the humor (particularly the nods to the heartfelt 1980s films of John Hughes), but the lowbrow poop and fart jokes and the gratuitous nudity made Not Another Teen Movie seem remarkably, un-ironically similar to many of the genre's worst entries.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: The first thing you'll note about this transfer is the eye-popping color—it looks rich and saturated without any color bleeding or blooming. Blacks are very solid without sacrificing detail, and fine detail in general is very good. I noticed no artifacting or aliasing, and just a little bit of edge enhancement.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 mix actually sounds pretty good for a dialogue-intensive comedy. Speech is always well placed in the mix and understandable, but at times, ADR is apparent and the voices sound a bit flat. Effects and music are mostly confined to the front soundstage, but the surrounds do kick in during some of the more elaborate scenes (like the toilet gag and the part where a character falls through the floor). The pop-heavy score also utilizes the surrounds for support at times.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The New Guy, The Animal, Big Daddy, Loser, Saving Silverman
17 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by director Joel Gallen and co-writer Mike Bender; cast members Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly, Chris Evans, Eric Christian Olsen, and Eric Jungmann; Text Commentary: Teen Movie Factoids
Starting things off are three commentary tracks, two of them audio-based and one text-based. The first features director Joel Gallen and co-writer Mike Bender, and it is really surprising (or maybe kinda sad) to hear how seriously they talk about their inconsequential little film. They are both quite somber, discussing their inspiration for many of the gags or describing how difficult it was to make just the right color fake poop spew out of the fiberglass toilet.
The cast commentary, with Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly, Chris Evans, Eric Christian Olsen, and Eric Jungmann, is far better. There isn't a lot of substance to it, but what do you expect? I was listening to hear the actors make fun of each other and the film, and that's what I got. They certainly aren't afraid to attack certain scenes, though they do emphasize how much fun the project was. And hearing them laugh at their favorite little moments actually makes the film seem quite a bit better (at least until you shut the commentary off).
The text commentary offers Teen Movie Factiods. More precisely, it points out which movies inspired which scenes, and also offers a few countdown lists, like "the top five prom scenes" or "best teen movie kisses." The pop-up bubbles show up quite frequently at first, but become more and more rare as the film limps towards its conclusion and all the major references have already been explained.
School's in Session offers a half-hour featurette broken down into three segments. "Best Dressed" covers the costume design, allowing the designers to point out yet more examples of homage to influential teen flicks. I was interested to learn that the naked Foreign Exchange Student actually required some costume design. "Class Clown" covers the major effects sequences, including the toilet and stairs gags. "My Freshman Year" starts off with the cast praising first time director Joel Gallen, but it actually goes on to include some good, mostly non-promotional interviews with the cast and crew.
The deleted scenes gallery is quite extensive, featuring 17 excised scenes and an alternate ending, which all told run about 25 minutes. Most of the deleted footage is interesting enough; certainly the jokes are no worse than what actually made it into the film. I did laugh a bit at the cut references to 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, because I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds great amusement in Julia Stiles' slutty dancing.
The Auditions Montage runs four minutes and features some slightly amusing footage of the actors trying to make the unfunny dialogue sound funny (which, somehow, is funny). The Yearbook is a rather unique twist on the photo gallery, as the animated six-minute segment offers not only on-set shots of the cast and director, but a glimpse into their real life high school yearbooks as well.
Test Your Teen Movie I.Q. is a well-designed interactive game, with each multiple-choice question incorporating footage from the film and the actors making fun of you. I don't know if I am showing off or opening myself up to ridicule when I admit that I got every question right.
Closing out the disc are some promotional materials that are actually pretty cute. The Meet the Cast Promos offer seven different 30-second spots introducing the stereotyped teen characters. The uncut version of Marilyn Manson's cover of Tainted Love serves up more gratuitous nudity, along with a brief MTV Making the Video featurette. Joel Gallen's first short film for MTV, Car Ride, features three minutes of Jenny McCarthy, but there's no accounting for taste. Finally, a trailer gallery offers clips for the feature, The New Guy, The Animal, Big Daddy, Loser, and Saving Silverman.
The menus are worth mentioning too—they spoof the advertising campaigns of some popular teen films, including Porky's, Bring It On, and Pretty in Pink, and even seem to mock the annoying plastic bag theme of the menus on the American Beauty DVD.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsNot Another Teen Movie doesn't quite live up to its title; it certainly falls victim to many of the same problems—too much gross-out humor, poor pacing, hit or miss jokes—as many of the films it spoofs. Connoisseurs of the genre will certainly find a few things to giggle at, though, and they'd probably be happy with a rental. For true fans, the DVD is good enough to warrant a purchase.
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