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Fox Home Entertainment presents
John Tucker Must Die (2006)

"I was so depressed I couldn't even enjoy the break-up sex."
- Beth (Sophia Bush)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 30, 2006

Stars: Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti
Other Stars: Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel, Jenny McCarthy
Director: Betty Thomas

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sexual content and language)
Run Time: 01h:29m:45s
Release Date: November 14, 2006
UPC: 024543390640
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C+AB B-

DVD Review

Young Hollywood continues to be in a state of flux, with film after film providing audiences with a look at another collection of fresh faces. These days, much of the young talent is making the jump from TV to the big screen. 2006's John Tucker Must Die features an ensemble of young adults culled from shows across the major TV network landscape, including "the hot gardener" from Desperate Housewives, one of the stars of One Tree Hill, and even a major label pop music singer, to name a few. With such great talent and an interesting premise going for it, why does the film disappoint?

John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) is the ultimate popular high school jock. Not only is he the captain of the basketball team, John manages to date three women simultaneously, without them aware of his three-timing ways. A wallflower named Kate (Brittany Snow) witnesses John's philandering first-hand and approaches his girlfriends, Heather (Ashanti), Carrie (Arielle Kebbel), and Beth (Sophia Bush). With knowledge of his cheating in hand, the girls employ Kate to become John's latest conquest. Their intentions for this new relationship are entirely driven by revenge, but John has no idea nor is he prepared for the evil things the girls have in store for him.

On the surface, John Tucker Must Die is another in a long line of harmless, yet limp teen comedies. About halfway through frustration sets in—there are enough entertaining moments sprinkled throughout, leading the audience to believe things could turn out better. The cast as a whole is quite good, and, once he gets a few ill-timed barbs out of the way, Metcalfe shows that he could be a lead actor with a bit of polishing. Even Jenny McCarthy is good as Kate's mom. Sure, it's difficult to believe that she could be the mother of a high school student, but after a surprisingly moving scene with Brittany Snow, it's easier to buy her character.

Still, despite its strong points, it's a shame that this potentially edgy original storyline turns out to be a far too cushy tale of high school revenge. With what could have been something along the lines of Mean Girls or even Heathers at their fingertips, the filmmakers simply sit on the ball instead of running with it. It's clear tthey were going for the overall vibe of Mean Girls with the numerous cliques and stereotypes, etc., but there's just not enough cruelty to reach that next level. A sharper, edgier approach to the material could have made for a wonderful film. Granted, this might have kept the teenyboppers away from the theater, but they didn't exactly turn out in droves for the film as is, either.

The main standout among the cast is the amazingly appealing Arielle Kebbel (The Grudge 2). Not only is her beauty unquestionable, but she just has that special "something" that makes it impossible to be anything but locked into her every on-screen move. She's the smartest of John Tucker's girls, but her brain power does make it difficult to believe that she'd fall for this scam artist, but she, too, is powerless to his charm and sex appeal. If only this movie could win audiences over so easily...

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: There is both an 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and a pan-and-scan one. The widescreen transfer is the easy choice, thanks to sharp detailed images, along with deep blacks and nice contrast levels. The colors are bright and vivid, while the youngsters flesh tones are more than accurate. There wasn't any grain or dirt either.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is a typical, lighthearted comedy mix, with the surrounds being used sparingly, and mostly for housing the pop music soundtrack. A nice bass presence is a plus, while the crystal clear dialogue is integrated well into the overall mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Deleted Scenes
5 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Betty Thomas and editor Matthew Friedman
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Soundtrack Promo Spot
  2. Live performance of "Instantly Gratified" by People In Planes
Extras Review: There's a large number of extras spread out over both sides of this disc, with the widescreen side featuring Grrrl Power, a four-minute featurette where tdirector Betty Thomas dotes over how gorgeous the cast is. Cutting Class with Jesse Metcalfe runs just under four minutes and finds the actor taking us on a tour of the set. Kodiak Yearbook is another four-minute piece with short blurbs from the major cast members about their personal high school experiences.

The flip side gives us two deleted scenes (lasting a total of a minute) with optional Thomas commentary, as well as On the Rebound, a two-minute clip of Metcalfe on the basketball court. A John Tucker Must Die Dating Quiz is a nearly three-minute EPK that has questions about the right way to date, while a taste for the film's music is featured via a Soundtrack Promo Spot and a live performance of Instantly Gratified by People In Planes. There's also the original theatrical trailer for.

Both sides of the disc contain an audio commentary track with director Betty Thomas and editor Matthew Friedman. The pair discusses certain nuances of their film and seem to be having a good time doing so. This isn't a super technical film discussion; just a couple of friends reminiscing about their production.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

John Tucker Must Die is a better film than I expected, but it could have been much more. Still, a solid group of young actors gives a valiant effort despite a poor script, making this worth a look on DVD. Fox Home Video's disc is surprisingly appealing, as it not only features both the theatrical and "unrated" versions of the film, (the latter featuring a few more seconds of footage) as well as excellent audio and video presentations, but there are also some nice supplements as well.

 


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