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Volume 1, Number 4

This Week's Reviews:  Doug's 1st Movie, Never Been Kissed, The Mod Squad.



Doug's 1st Movie

(Dir: Maurice Joyce, Voices include Thomas McHugh, Fred Newman, Constance Shulman, Chris Phillips, Guy Hadley, Alice Pleyton, and Frank Welker)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

I wonder if they did this because of The Rugrats Movie? As Disney attempts to make a little profit off of its recent purchase of the Doug series from Nickelodeon, the fateful parents of small children are forced to squirm in their seats. I may not be a parent of some over-zealous Doug fan, but I sure did the squirming part.

The film follows the trivails of Doug Funnie as he must discreetly hide a swamp monster he has found and attempt to woo Patty Mayonnaise as his date to the prom. The monster is about as interesting as the first five minutes of Wing Commander and the date part is thrown to abandon as every person in the theatre knows how it is sure to turn out. If the so-called vixen Ms. Mayonnaise was worth an hour and fifteen minutes of screentime than I can't wait for Bobcat Goldthwait to get his own film (oh yeah, it was called Hot to Trot).

The film is sure to be enjoyed by well-meaning toddlers and pre-teens, anyone else will be sitting there ready to leave, which is exactly the same thing I said about The Rugrats Movie.


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Never Been Kissed

(Dir: Raja Gosnell, Starring Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Molly Shannon, Leelee Sobieski, Jessica Alba, Jeremy Jordan, Jordan Ladd, John C. Reilly, Marley Shelton, Michael Vartan, and Chad Haywood)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

Last weekend I was excited over giving a recommendation to the dramatic comedy True Crime, this week that honor goes to an even less honored place, teen-oriented comedies. After sitting through She's All That, Simply Irresistible, Jawbreaker, and 200 Cigarettes, you would think that I would jump at the chance of skipping every high school based films for the rest of the year. Of course then I would have missed Rushmore and this slight delight. Despite a poor ad campaign, Never Been Kissed suprises by giving up the overused storyline of teen angst and replaces it with adult angst over past teen angst. Not for one minute was I bored or yearning to look at my watch, which is quite an achievement considering that She's All That would be more interesting if I had watched my watch keep time instead of the film.

Never Been Kissed is about an aspiring Chicago journalist (oh no, having Message in a Bottle flashbacks) that is sent on assignment to show what life was like as a teenager (thank heavens she is not sent to find some guy who happens to like to write in bottles). This is a bit unnerving for her because she had had a terrible high school experience, often shown to the audience in hilarious flashbacks. While under-cover she falls for two guys: one the most sought after guy in school (Jordan, who comes off more as the loner of the class than the big man on campus), the other her English teacher (Vartan). As things go, the teacher-student relationship becomes big news for her editor (Reilly) that sees it as an opportunity to break ground not started on by the competing Chicago newspaper (by the way it is Chicago Sun-Times vs. Chicago Tribune, the most famous of all newspaper clashes).

Barrymore is very likable in this causing me to, on the whim of the moment, call her one of the five best actresses under thirty. Maybe its from the old Lionel and John Barrymore blood, but she has been good in all of her films since Batman Forever in which she at least tried. Last year I gave her kudos in three films (The Wedding Singer, Ever After, and Home Fries) and I feel kind of slighted that according to the IMDb this is her only film for 1999. As for the rest of the cast, it is hit and miss. Arquette is quite enjoyable in this despite playing the tiresome stupid brother character. While he does make up for being in Ravenous, Molly Shannon is still not that lucky as A Night at the Roxbury still tarnishes any career she could ever have. Both Reilly and Marshall are hilarious (though I will never understand how Marshall can act so funny and then direct such unfunny comedies as The Other Sister). Vartan is okay, just well enough to make me want to see his recent film The Curve which also stars Keri Russell and Matthew Lillard. Sobieski is very enjoyable as the class nerd and I really like that the film did not play Hollywood formula in dealing with the outcome of her character. Which leads me Jordan, who gives a charming performance although I can't help but think of how this is the same guy that tried to jump start a music career on Beverly Hills, 90210.

All in all, Never Been Kissed is a nice, sweet, endearing, feel-good comedy that comes ever so close to the more laughable Blast from the Past.


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The Mod Squad

(Dir: Scott Silver, Starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps, Giovanni Ribisi, Dennis Farina, Josh Brolin, Steve Harris, Michael Lerner, Richard Jenkins, and Larry Brandenburg)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

That's right ladies and gentleman, another film based on a television show. Despite the low reviews and dismal box-office for films like The Beverly Hillbillies and Boris and Natasha: The Movie, Hollywood is still looking for another The Fugitive and The Untouchables. This time they jump back to the 1970s series The Mod Squad, which just can't help but be dated upon arrival.

The new film brings the same three cops from the series but opts for a "new" story that is just as incomprehensible as to why Universal allowed a remake of Psycho. They are a group of ex-criminals now chosen for undercover police work. They are in the hunt to find out why their leader was killed. There's laughing, there's crying, there's drugs, there's sex, and there's even a group of Hanson wannabes. This movie has it all, that is all but a feasible plot. The director just goes hay-wire trying to think of some new way to make Ribisi look stupid as the low-brow idiot cop, or to make Epps look cool as the laid-back smooth cop, or make Danes look sexy as the angst riddled (if I ever have to think of those words with the likes of Danes again, I'll scream) prostitute cop. The cast seems to be under the impression that all they have to do is walk around and say a few lines and this will make them stars, but that does not quite cut it. The only people that are fun to watch in the film are Michael Lerner and Dennis Farina, both of whom are barely in the film. There's no way I could ever go out and tell someone to see this film even though it is still much better than Ravenous, The Other Sister, and Jawbreaker, not that that is saying much.


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Reviews by:
David Perry
1999, Cinema-Scene.com

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