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JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE, 2006
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JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE, 2006
Movie Review
Directed by Betty Thomas
Starring: Brittany Snow, Jesse Metcalfe, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, and Anelle Kebbel.
Review by Elizabeth Cooper Link



SYNOPSIS:

Three ex-girlfriends of a serial cheater (Metcalfe) set up their former lover to fall for the new girl in town so they can watch him get his heart broken.

REVIEW:

I can sum up the plot in four words: John Tucker Must Die. And that is the goal of this film and the female protagonists in it.John Tucker (Metcalfe) is the stud around school; you know the type, head of the basketball team, rich, good-looking, etc.

He’s the type of guy you either want to date or want to kill out of sheer jealousy. Well, hate to spoil the plot, but no one kills John in a jealous rage. Instead, three jilted ex-girlfriends set out to ruin John’s life and break his heart after they find out he’s been cheating on them. Actress turned director Betty Thomas creates a fun easy-going piece of high school faire that seems fresh despite the predictable storyline. True to form, the three girls are all part of different cliques around campus, until their revenge fantasy brings them together. There is, of course, the cocky cheerleader Heather (Ashanti), who feels like the captain of the basketball team should naturally be with the head cheerleader. There is Carrie (Kebbel) the school president, which the script so lovingly combines with the stereotypical audio/video geek. Rounding out the group is Beth, the animal activist, vegetarian. Very few films set out to start a new stereotype, but in this case, instead of the cheerleader being the slutty one of the group, the vegetarian is….interesting. Despite the showcasing the cliché of high school caricatures, the actresses bring a refreshing presence to their roles, which is only benefitted further by the smart writing of the film. After John dumps his three girlfriends (without breaking a sweat, I might add), the girls vow to destroy his chances to date other girls. Their antics are somewhat original in the idea and execution of them, but of course, John’s status as a hunk doesn’t crumble under a few minor embarrassments. In fact, he becomes more desirable to women. On the second attempt to make him crack, the girls decide to set John up with a girl who can break his heart.

Enter comely new girl Kate (Snow), as the intended heartbreaker. Although she plays the never-had-a-date new girl, the script avoids making her the ugly duckling. When the trio of hotties begins to make Kate into a popular chick worthy of John’s affection, they really just straighten her hair and give her a short skirt. It’s nice to see a film that doesn’t go for the obvious trend of turning an ugly duckling into a princess. The low-key script and clean acting style really carry the film beyond its typical limits. The feisty trio steers clear of being overly bitchy and overly stupid, becoming normal girls who simply feel rejected by a cute guy. Britney Snow’s acting of Kate, however, feels overly pathetic, as if she is simply re-enacting her character Meg from her time on NBC’s American Dreams. Metcalfe plays John very convincingly as both a nice guy and a high school Casanova (likely it is because he has had practice having to fight women off).

Kate tries awkwardly to win over John’s heart, with the help of her friends, she succeeds. But, unfortunately, her conscience starts weighing on her, and she wants to come clean to John. To be fair though, her “conscience” also starts to fall for his loner brother played by the Gossip Girl favorite Penn Bagley. The film ends without pretension, without any crises of conscience, and with much entertainment.

Overall, the romantic comedy isn’t so romantic, but sometimes you don’t want to see the guy and girl end up together in the end. Sometimes, you just want to see the characters remain the same, unchanged, unromantic, and really happy about it at the end of the day.

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