Not Another Teen Movie Review
Much like the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise is an unfunny piss take of the modern teen slasher movies such as Scream and it’s many clones, ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ is really an un-needed spoof of the remaining teen genres – such as the ‘romantic’ teen movie (She’s All That), the ‘gross out’ comedy (Road Trip) and the ‘coming of age’ comedy (American Pie). However, just because it’s not needed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not any good.
Made up largely of homages to other films in the genre – just taking them that little bit further – Not Another Teen Movie takes all of the stereotypes from the films that it skits and sticks them all into one big cooking pot. The film effectively ends up being an uneasy mixture that is just about saved by some infrequent laughs.
Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh) is the ‘pretty ugly’ girl at school – the girl typified by thick-rimmed glasses and a tight pony tail, which when removed turn her into a beautiful woman ala Rachael Leigh Cook’s character in She’s All That. As in She’s All That, the plot of the film revolves around the school ‘jock’ Jake Wyler (Chris Evans – thankfully not the Ginger one) being dumped by his cheerleader girlfriend Priscilla (Jaime Pressly) and being duped into a bet which involves him taking the most undesirable girl in the school to the prom and getting her chosen as prom queen. The most undesirable girl being, of course, Janey.
At the same time, first graders Mitch Briggs (Cody McMains), Ox (Sam Huntington – a young version of American Pie’s Oz) and Bruce (Samm Levine) set about trying to lose their virginity in a nod to the American Pie films. In fact, I don’t think there’s a teen film from the last 15 years that hasn’t been cribbed from in some form here – we can add Never Been Kissed, Cruel Intentions (the parody of the the lesbian kiss scene is certainly worth looking out for), Road Trip, 10 Things I Hate About You, Varsity Blues, American Beauty (Wes Bentley has an un-credited appearance in a very similar role, ‘beautiful’ carrier bag and all), Grease (a musical and dance sequence) and many others to the list.
Unfortunately, taking the piss out of films that are intentionally funny in the first place rarely works and what was funny in the source film is often pushed to the extreme and the end result is less than amusing. Where ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ does work is when it’s intended target isn’t a comedy, the ‘She’s All That’ inspired moments being a prime example. However, the sad fact is that the real laughs are few and far between and even then they won’t really have you laughing out loud.
In terms of performances, Chyler Leigh stands out as being able to hold the film together – she’s strong as Janey Briggs and given the right material she would be quite capable of turning in a great performance. Randy Quaid is also good as the alcoholic father figure who doesn’t really know how to handle his kids. Other than that though, the remaining performances leave the viewer wanting – it’s hard to see the remaining cast members branching out of the teen film market. Jaime Pressly gets a high billing on the cast list but her character is sidelined throughout much of the film and going on the evidence present here Chris Evans could probably never play anything but the ‘jock’ role.
The direction is little more than adequate – there’s not really any call for anything else so that’s not a problem. All in all, given that the original premise for ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ was somewhat flaky to start with the end result is surprisingly not as bad as it could have been but that doesn’t really make it particularly good. It’s not the worst teen gross out comedy of the last few years, but it’s more likely to appeal to the same people that enjoyed ‘Freddy Got Fingered’ or ‘Dude Where’s My Car’ than a film with a real human aspect such as the original ‘American Pie’. The laughs are too few and far between to justify any sort of recommendation.
Not Another Teen Movie makes use of a very bright colour palette – it is rare in the film for there to be a scene that doesn’t jump out at you. Thankfully the DVD transfer preserves this almost perfectly with nice pin-sharp definition and no sign of any sort of colour-bleed. There is a minor amount of what can only be described as haze but it doesn’t distract from the presentation. Given the over-the-top style of the film, the picture on display here is spot on.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is rarely used to any great effect – the only time when it comes close to anything other than adequate is when the various rock/nu-metal style music blasts out at full force. Front separation is nice but surround activity is kept to the bare minimum. Certainly nothing to shout about but for a visuals/dialogue led piece this isn’t a huge disappointment.
First up, the menus are very well designed – and much like the film they take the piss out of numerous other films including, most notably American Beauty. It’s good to see well thought out presentation from start to finish and you can almost always be assured of that with a Columbia disc.
There are two commentary tracks – the first featuring most of the major cast – Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly, Chris Evans, Eric Christian Olsen and Eric Jungmann - is by far the most enjoyable, but lacks any real information. Still it’s worth a listen to as there are plenty of amusing anecdotes from the making of the film. The second commentary by director Joel Gallen and co-writer Michael Bend is far less intense but also far more informative – the price being of course that it’s not nearly as much fun. Do you really want to know the in’s and out’s of making a film like this? Neither track really offers much to entice you back for a second sitting.
My favourite extra has to be the Teen Movie Factoids – these are basically little windows that pop up while watching when the feature is enabled, containing various bits and bobs of information along with the occasional laugh-out-loud comment that adds to the film experience.
There’s a featurette on the costumes used in the film, this runs for around 9 minutes and is little more than information heavy promotional material (as with 95% of all featurettes). The Class Clown is another, this time focussing on the special effects used in the film and ‘My Freshman Year’ focuses on Joel Gallen’s first directorial role and the casting process.
There’s a selection of deleted scenes and outtakes – eighteen in total including the original ending that was replaced for the theatrical release, and there’s the option to watch them all in sequence. There’s nothing in this lot that would add anything to the movie.
We also have the full uncut version of Marilyn Mansons’ Tainted Love music video which also features a few cast members and a selection of trailers for this and other related films. Finally, to round off there are some brief ‘Meet the Cast’ promo spots including auditions as well as Joel Gallen’s first short - Car Ride.
Given the somewhat dubious foundations, Not Another Teen Movie isn’t all that bad. It’s nothing to shout about but is certainly worth a watch if only for the few funny moments dotted throughout the film. The 90 minute running time means the film doesn’t drag at any point. The DVD is excellent – good presentation, good transfer and a surprisingly good selection of extra material rounds off a very good package indeed.