Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Spoofing is often believed the cheapest and lamest form of comedy. One runs jab after jab, and gag after gag relentlessly hoping that some hit but content that if they don’t more will follow with the potential to. But many of the jokes in a spoof aren’t textured; there’s nothing below their surface. Spoofs can be done well or they can be embarrassing and wretched to sit through. Count Not Another Teen Movie in the latter category.

At John Hughes High School (can you feel the parody, can you?) it’s life as we know it for stereotypes and clichés. The Bitchy Cheerleader has just dumped the Popular Jock and the Cocky Blonde Guy has initiated a bet that PJ cannot turn anyone into prom material. The men size up their choices, including an albino girl singing about her lost pigmentation (one of the few funny gags), and decide on the Pretty Ugly girl who is beyond all hope with her glasses and ponytail. Meanwhile, the Cruelest Girl is trying to find a way to seduce her brother, the Popular Jock, a trio of Virgins try and, what else, lose their virginity, and the Best Friend with Hopeless Crush tries to work his klutzy charm.

In a genre full of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s greatest hits (or misses, however you want to look at it) a parody wouldn’t be too difficult to prescribe. All too often the film has no edge and falls back on scatological humor as its savior once too often. An exploding toilet and a flying vibrator can only do so much. There has to be things behind it. Alas, there is nothing. For every one part funny (a character tries to find the right moment to start a slow and building applause) there are three parts inane, satirically flaccid, crudely useless, or bordering on exploitative (the foreign exchange student who drapes around completely nude the entire film). The jokes arrive many times cold and require a good deal of familiarity with the subject material it’s spoofing. NATM seems to not think too greatly of the audience for it. The film continually seems to explain jokes after they happen or reacquaint the audience with the source for spoofery. The worst example may be that the movie has to SHOW a character watching a scene from ‘Pretty in Pink’ mere seconds before it spoofs that very scene.

The movie, as a whole, has about six good gags and bits but the rest is watch-checking time. Some comedic threads don’t even get the proper treatment to become good jokes. The Token Black Guy’s introduction is rather funny, but then all he does in the film is repeat the words he said he could only say. Now, if the other characters had begun to question this law of teen movies, and asked him questions then this idea could have been ripely handled. As it stands it’s another joke in a line of jokes that go nowhere but we keep going back to repeatedly.

The flick was directed by Joel Gallen, marking his film debut after years as an MTV producer. Gallen shows no finesse when it comes to comedy as everything is rammed into the ground. His film is a spoof with nothing to do, much like the bad but better Scary Movie 2 earlier this year. Jokes come and go but they serve no purpose in moving things along or setting up greater jokes. This is comedy lost in the woods.

NATM is an attempt to satirize the teen genre, which should have been a rather easy job to do but instead just becomes another sad addition to it. And a rather poor and limp addition at that. NATM doesn’t know that the audience isn’t laughing with it but at it.

Nate’s Grade: C-

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on December 18, 2001, in 2001 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: