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February 01, 1999 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-01

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* Last screening of 'Marius and Jeanette' tonight at the Michigan
Theater. A simple film about a middle-aged couple who find love,
"Marius and Jeanette" discover one another and their turbulent
histories in a working class town. In French with English subti-
tles. 8:45 p.m. $5.50 for students.

Ule ti ia ai

Breaking Records returns with a review of "Keep it Like a
Secret," the new CD by Built to Spill.

Monday
February 1,1999

ldv

Cook and Paquin all that, then some

By Erin Podoisky
Daily Arts Writer
There is a renaissance afoot in
film, bringing back a form that has
been long absent: the teen movie.
.She's All That," a new film from
Robert Iscove continues what
"Can't Hardly Wait" started last
summer and the upcoming
"American Pie" is certain to carry
on.
Sure there have been plenty of
low-grade, lowbrow movies aimed
at the most faithful moviegoing
demographic, peppering the release
fhedule in the 10 years since John
*ughes stopped making the great
teen comedies of the 1980s. But
there has been nothing that can
compare to the current movement
back toward quality, entertaining
teen flicks, of which "She's All
That" belongs.
Perhaps the reason is the writing;
perhaps the reason is the newfound
celebrity amongst much of young
Hollywood thanks to the prolifera-
n o f teen horror movies (a.k.a.
Ake Splat Pack). Whatever the rea-
son, this resurgence is equal parts
nostalgia mercantilism (unlike the

Courtesy of Miramax
Anna Paquin helps transform Rachael Leigh Cook from frumpy to classy In "She's All That," but without the bag of chips.

Hughes comedies,
She's All
That
At Briarwood
and Showcase

these movies are
much more
self-aware) and
originality,
allowing us to
look back at the
great teenies of
the past and the
new school of
the present.
"She's All
That" is essen-
tially the
Pygmalion
myth set in high
school (if you
don't know

what that is, go rent "My Fair Lady"
0 "Pretty Woman"). Like the great-
t teen flicks, it's astonishingly
simple premise is much more com-
plex than a one-line description.
The characters begin as types and
grow into people (except for one
semi-fictional TV personality). The
backstories may seem a little CBS-
movie-of-the-week, but work
because believing in this kind of
,movie means letting a lot of hard-
-swallow (including a ridiculous
oreographed dance number) ele-
ments slide. "She's All That" slides
with the best of them and manages
to remain standing.
Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is
the student body president, fourth in
his class and the most popular guy
in school. His first stop upon arriv-

ing at school is to park his Land
Rover in his personal space in the
lot; his second stop is to check out
his handsome mug hanging on the
wall of the school entrance, reassur-
ing himself that all is right with the
world and he is indeed still the Zack
Siler that he was the previous morn-
ing.
But when he returns from spring
break, his identity begins to crum-
ble: his girlfriend, the most popular
girl in school (surprise!) and first-
class bitch, Taylor (Jodi Lyn
O'Keefe), spent spring break at the
MTV beach house and dumped him
for Brock Hudson, an only slightly
fictionalized version of the repel-
lant Puck from "Real World Ill: San
Francisco."
In order to prove his social worth,
Zack gambles with his best friend
Dean (Paul Walker) that he can take
any girl in school and turn her into
the prom queen. The catch is Dean
gets to pick the lucky victim.
Dean chooses Laney Boggs
(Rachael Leigh Cook), an uncool art
student known as the "falafel fairy."
Laney, unlike female protagonists
of the past, is perfectly aware of
what's going on around her and has
no illusions about her status in the
vicious social scene. She's constant-
ly suspicious of Zack's motives and
tries her best to thwart his advances.
Things take fairly predictable
turns in "She's All That." Boy woos
girl for wrong reasons, girl suspects
boy, boy and girl both fall for each

Cook is a
little weak-
er, but
overall
handles
t h e
trans-
forma-
t i o n
f r o m
wall -
flower to
rose in a
fashion
t h a t
avoids
wooden-
ness; her
physical
transforma-
tion in par-

other, meddling best friend informs
girl of bet, etc, etc. Nobody ever
gave John Hughes a medal for orig-
inality with "Sixteen Candles" or
"The Breakfast Club;" what is hap-
pening in today's teen renaissance is
no different and no less delicious
to experience, though.
The cast of "She's All That" is
great fun to watch, each
approaching their performances
(both good and evil) with equal {
enthusiasm. Prinze Jr. is espe-
cially impressive, sparkling
with a boyish wit and a gen-
tle do-gooder-ness that
makes his portrayal
of Zack quite
believable.

ticular is convincing even if it really
only consists of the pruning of a
rat's nest hairdo and a pair of con-
tacts (hats off to the makeup and
costume departments).
I've spent many happy
afternoons in front of my
TV watching slightly
sanitized versions of
"Ferris Bueller's Day
Off" and "Pretty in
Piak" and I plan on
spending many more
there. Maybe 10
years from now,
"She's All That" and
its past and future
brethren will be
sharing those
slots with the
Hughes come-
dies. If they
are, it won't
be as pre-
tenders to the
throne but
y><:worthy heirs.
Keep the teen
comedies
coming from
the new class
- the best
may be in the
past, but
there's still
plenty of
CourtesyofMOM& greatness
"resIntheheartsof to come
and offIn "She's All from the
future.

a .

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Freddie Primze Jr. lights A
teenage girls on-screena
That.,,

___j

; l. $~ } } .~+, . , . w ' v gA 4 ! I
F. So- tae- -SCENEa ? 8-

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