Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Never Been Loved

A while back I watched Never Been Kissed after it popped up as a TiVo recommendation. I took notes on it with a snarky blog post in mind. That post never materialized, but this one, in which I attempt to decipher my notes, pretty much covers it.

"correcting grammar"
This is one of those movies in which we learn a character is smart because they have a hang-up with correcting people's grammar. In real life, even those of us who know better are usually not so obnoxious as to inject grammar notes into everyday conversation. From time to time, some of us even talk unrightly ourselves. (Instead we make ourselves feel superior by nitpicking lousy teen comedies that many people enjoy.)

"copy ed - office/asst?!"
Since Stephanie really is a copy editor at a newspaper, I have a vague awareness of how the process works. She does not have her own enclosed office, nor does she have a quirky personal assistant, as does Drew Barrymore in this movie. Perhaps the Chicago Sun-Times has more resources to throw around, seeing as they are about to pay someone to spend months undercover in pursuit of a story that doesn't yet exist.

"Kristen Davis"
One of the popular girls is named Kristen Davis, like that actress from Sex in the City and a classmate of mine from USC. Popular name.

"cheer millenium prom theme who cares?"
The students in the film are thrilled to learn that their prom will be themed after the most overhyped, meaningless event of the late '90s: The Millenium! In what world does anyone outside of the prom committee even care what the prom theme is, and how could anyone possibly be so excited about the millenium? What does a millenium-themed prom even mean, anyway?

"why work? No HW"
Drew Barrymore quickly re-establishes herself as a star student and teacher's pet what with her astute interpretations of Shakespeare and all. But why work at all if you are only pretending to be a student? Blow off your homework and you're halfway to being a cool kid. I wish I could go back to high school as a fake student, just so I could experience what blowing off schoolwork is like.

"surveille equip."
Where did she get all this high tech surveillance stuff?

"hot nerd - where?"
I was trying to figure out where I recognized the obviously hot nerdy girl from. Answer: It's Leelee Sobeiski. Which I'm probably misspelling.

"Jessica Alba"
She's in this? Hey!

"James Franco"
Wow. A movie with Jessica Alba and James Franco and we have to watch Drew Barrymore and David Arquette. How unfair is that?

"cool teacher - no (?) so asigned read"
Something about the cool teacher. Other than that, no idea.

"Who is black surv. guy?"
Is is just me or does the surveillance guy (the black dude in the van, also known as Wallace's dad on Veronica Mars) appear in this movie out of nowhere? I don't remember seeing him work at the newspaper, yet all of a sudden we see him spying on Barrymore and offering her equipment. Where did he come from? Are we just supposed to know him?

"ad: Caleman: I borrowed that"
Probably a very funny idea for a joke about an ad, which I now don't recognize.

Having a stamp with the word "Loser" mirroring itself for no reason is a long way to go just so "Loser" will come out forwards on Barrymore's forehead later.

"big prom carnival"
The big expensive carnival as a fundraiser for prom, like the surveillance guy, was also something I saw first on Veronica Mars. Its presence here suggests this is a real thing. My school never had a pre-prom carnival. Are those common, do they only exist in movies, or are they something that used to happen but don't anymore, like live bands at dances?

"Barbie swimsuits - sword"
Where is this high school that allows girls to show up for prom in swimsuits, and guys to show up carrying swords? No way that's allowed anywhere now. Were things that different in the last millenium? Oh, and while we're on the subject, since when do proms get turned into themed costume balls, and since when do kids get excited about that? A prom theme really just means "Which sappy song gets played at the end of the night?" Nothing more.

They're calling the cool teacher "Coolson," which seems a bit on the nose in the naming department. Apparently it's a nickname, but I can only assume that his real name was Colson or something, because I don't remember.

"nerd P' guy?"
Probably something about how the dream guy asks the nerd to dance. This question resolves itself when we learn it's a prank. But why is she so excited to dance with him, and why is he so stupid to go through with it when she reveals she's hot? Answer: They're both dumb.

"Movie papers - bad layout"
How come Hollywood can build entire fake cities convincingly, but they can't make a prop newspaper that doesn't look like a high school paper or free local circular? Fonts are badly chosen, photos are poorly placed, layouts are a ridiculous mess. Is it so hard to get someone in the prop department who is willing to look at an actual newspaper? When Barrymore's story appears in the Sun-Times, it's an embarrassment.

"Some story!"
You're an editor. You send someone undercover for several months (with expensive round-the-clock surveillance!) in hopes of serving up a juicy, scandalous expose. She emerges with a self-indulgent diary entry about how hard high school was for her, boo-hoo. And this satisfies you? Well, if you're dumb enough to give a nebulous reporting assignment to someone without a shred of even beat reporting under her belt, maybe it would. It certainly serves you right. Maybe that stuff was more exciting to newpaper readers back then, before blogs had the whiny, pointless confessional market cornered.


blafard said...

I have been obsessed with this movie since seeing it twice in-flight. It provokes a primal anger when I watch it. I have a hard time articulating precisely what my problem is, and I think that better understanding it would be a Good Thing for me. The best I have been able to do in describing my problem is something like this:

Drew Barrymore's character is presented with data from which she draws conclusions and makes decisions. These are not the decisions I would make, but that's fine, maybe in the reality of the movie her choices are justified. Or maybe she's just got different priorities than I do. But no. In the movie, she is punished *repeatedly* for making Bad Decisions based on plenty of data. She has a hard time fulfilling both her stated or actual intentions. And yet she refuses to learn. Again and again she makes the same mistakes. It's as if she is so deeply programmed to perform suboptimally that she will never be able to do anything else. And that is so alien to me, it provokes a "Destroy" response. It's as if she is a giant insect or hostile lizard, or other creepy crawly, certainly not a mammal or anything I can recognize as like me. A moving, alien life form, and of course my natural reaction is fear and hatred.


Kenny said...

Yes! That is so dead on.

Barrymore keeps pleading for others to have faith in her even though she is obviously unsuited to the task. Not once does her behavior or performance suggest that she deserves the opportunity to be a reporter. She just happens to want it very badly.

She continues failing until the end of the movie, at which point her incompetence is illogically and inexplicably rewarded. Audiences are meant to cheer because she has somehow prevailed by "being herself," thus proving that even unqualified people can succeed if they want something badly but never actually work towards it. This is a selfish and idiotic definition of success.

She's like Forrest Gump without the charm or the excuse of a low IQ. Except that Forrest Gump was selfless and helpful and actually did manage to accomplish some things.