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review added: 4/3/03



Can't Buy Me Love
1988 (2002) - Touchstone (Buena Vista)

review by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits

Can't Buy Me Love Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/C/F

Specs and Features
94 mins, PG-13, full-frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screen, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English



"Nerds, jocks. My side, your side. It's all bullshit. It's hard enough just trying to be yourself."

For some, the teen comedies of the 1980's are a reminder of their teenage years, a throwback to when your biggest worry was whom you were going to prom with. But as I was born in the 1980's, my film memories are made up of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Batman, and that's it. I was even a little young when Clueless came out for it to really impact me. So "my" teen movies were those Freddie Prize Jr. gems, like She's All That. (Oh, such wonderful memories.) So it's a bit odd for me to watch any teen movie, let alone one from a different generation as mine.

While I can't say I absolutely love Can't Buy My Love, its cute charm did entertain me for 94 minutes. The film, which makes good use of the song from the Beatles, stars Patrick Dempsey as nerdy Ronald, a wallflower and social outcast. Since the seventh grade, he's been in love with Cindy (Amanda Peterson) the captain of the cheerleaders, and would do anything to be her boyfriend, unlikely as it is. But he does get an opportunity, when Cindy has ruined her mother's suede outfit and needs to buy a new one before her mother finds out. The store won't take a return, and a new outfit will put her back a thousand dollars she doesn't have.

Ronald just happens to have a thousand dollars saved up, and buys her the new outfit with one condition: that she has to be his girlfriend at school for one month. She reluctantly agrees, and Ronald soon becomes the most popular kid in school thanks to his trophy girlfriend. But (you guessed it) complications arise when Cindy falls in love with Ronald, and Ronald has gotten a head so large that he's forgotten that she's his dream girl.

With all due respect, Can't Buy Me Love is a pretty bad film. Not all that well produced to begin with, its hook is so lazy and obvious. The story moves from plot point to plot point, and we never really get to know or like these characters enough to be bothered when one gets their heart broken. Still, it isn't without any merit. The only reason why the film is so loved and remembered would be thanks to Patrick Dempsey, who has great charisma and is very comfortable in the role. In my opinion, Dempsey is an underrated performer anyway, who is usually wasted in his roles. (Like his great but totally misused recurring character on Will & Grace a few years ago.) But Ronald Miller is so perfect for him, and it's a great showcase for Dempsey to show off his talent.

The film could have been presented a bit better on this disc, but I'm sure fans of the film will be happy enough that it's on disc at all. First up is the video, which is generally clear, no grain or compression problems. The blacks and flesh tones are decent. The transfer is full-frame, which is unfortunate. The audio is presented in a 2.0 stereo remix, and is decent as well - nothing impressive, but everything sounds clear and the dialogue is always understandable. If you're looking for extras, look somewhere else. There's nothing here.

Can't Buy Me Love, oddly, works - even though the leads have no chemistry whatsoever. The odd moments of hilarity (like when Ronald mistakes American Bandstand for an African interpretive dance program on PBS) and Dempsey make this watchable, and ultimately, solid fluff.

Graham Greenlee
grahamgreenlee@thedigitalbits.com




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