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review added: 5/21/02



Not Another Teen Movie
Special Edition - 2001 (2002) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Not Another Teen Movie Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/A

Specs and Features

90 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 45:28, in chapter 17), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary track (with director Joel Gallen and co-writer Michael Bender), audio commentary track (with stars Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly, Chris Evans, Eric Christian Olsen and Eric Jungmann), Teen Movie Factoids pop-up windows, Best Dressed featurette, Class Clown featurette, My Freshman Year featurette, 18 deleted scenes, Tainted Love music video by Marilyn Manson, The Yearbook photo gallery, 7 Meet the Cast promos, auditions montage, director Joel Gallen's first short film Car Ride, Test Your Teen Movie I.Q. interactive trivia game, theatrical trailers (for Not Another Teen Movie, The New Guy, The Animal, Saving Silverman, Big Daddy and Loser), animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned

"Funny, isn't it? You would never suspect that everyone at this school is a professional dancer."

Talk about surprises! Not Another Teen Movie might very well be one of the funniest films I have seen in the last six months, and trust me when I tell you that that was not my expectation going into it. I know that a film critic should not enter a film with biases or preconceived notions, but let's face it - there have been plenty of really, truly terrible teen movies over the last 20 years. And despite the fact that this particular film is a parody, it's still a teen movie. I've had my fill of shallow, unrealistic teenagers attending schools that are fictitious on every plane of their celluloid existence. I don't think I can take any more diarrhea humor, or stomach one more masturbation joke in this lifetime. If you have similar feelings, I urge you to put them aside - as I did - when watching this film, because the filmmakers wad-up all of the teen movie conventions, throttle the teen film hydra by the neck and shove this rather large bitter pill straight down these movies' proverbial throat. And it's damn hilarious!

While Not Another Teen Movie's plot structure most closely resembles that of She's All That, Teen Movie effectively lampoons dozens - if not all - of the teen movies from the last two decades. Everything from Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles to American Pie and Varsity Blues all get their comeuppance (although I found the John Hughes references to be much friendlier tributes than the rest). The basic premise is that popular school jock Jake (Chris Evans) makes a bet with his friends that he can turn the most undesirable, nerdish girl in the school, Janey (Chyler Leigh), into prom queen. While every scene in this movie somehow parodies a teen film, the story is guided by this geeky-girl-turned-popular motif. None of the film's young stars are immediately recognizable, however they all do a great job of looking/acting/sounding like the teen star they're imitating. And what's more impressive is that many of the characters in this film represent amalgamations of several different teen movie characters (for example, at times the Jake character parodies Prinze, Jr. from She's All That, and at other times Van Der Beek from Varsity Blues); this multi-role challenge is nicely pulled off.

The script is surprisingly stable. I was impressed by how well it stuck to a narrative given its parodying nature and very large cast of characters. Co-writer Michael Bender mentions in the supplements that he didn't like the first draft of the script because it played out like a series of independent sketches. Thanks to several re-writes, this kink was pretty much worked out. It's a difficult task to explain why something is funny, but the best way I can think to explain the humor in this film is to parallel it to the early films of Zucker/Abrams/Zucker. There's a nice amount of witticism and subtlety to some of the jokes, balanced with some not-as-funny physical humor. Not every joke in Teen Movie works - some of the gags are lame, some predictable and some are cheap. But the jokes that do work really work in a big way.

Not Another Teen Movie is a great looking DVD with some minor faults. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer boasts some scenes that exhibit incredible dimensionality, yet others that are a bit hazy. This very subtle haze is apparent through much of the disc, and the vibrant colors can be a bit too oversaturated in spots, such as in the bright orange of the school's colors. It sounds worse than what it really is, but these niggles are still apparent. Use of artificial edge enhancement is very minimal, and doesn't detract from the video's plusses. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is a tad thin, but sports nice separation. Dialog is clear, and the numerous alt-rock tunes are spread around the listening space.

When starting up the disc and hitting the main menu, you just know that you're in for a treat with Not Another Teen Movie's extras. Each menu screen is a riff on the poster art of another teen film (the American Beauty screen is killer!) using actors or concepts from Teen Movie. There are two audio commentary tracks. The first track features stars Chyler "Ugly Pretty Girl" Leigh, Jaime "Bitchy Cheerleader" Pressly, Chris "Popular Jock" Evans, Eric Christian "Cocky Blonde Guy" Olsen and Eric "Obsessed Best Friend" Jungmann. It's not a very informative commentary, but is a lot of fun to listen to, as the young actors seem to have as great a time hanging out together as they did filming the movie. Director Joel Gallen and co-writer Michael Bender provide the second commentary track, and it's fairly stoic when compared to the previous. This track is definitely more informative from a filmmaking standpoint, and the participants do share some funny anecdotes. Think VH1's Pop-Up Video, and you'll have the basic idea of Teen Movie Factoids. When you turn this feature on, pop-up windows will… uhh… pop-up during the film to point out references to other films and interesting little background details. The windows can also be quite funny, as the brief shot of the well-endowed girl undressing in the locker room is accompanied by a window that says, "Press Pause Now."

A trio of interesting, and largely kiss-ass-free, featurettes can be found on this disc. The Best Dressed featurette runs 9-minutes, and focuses on the different costumes used throughout the film. The Class Clown featurette is 10-minutes in length, and discusses some of the special effects sequences, and more difficult shots that are found in the film. The My Freshman Year featurette (13-minutes) highlights director Joel Gallen's thoughts on directing his first feature film, and the casting process for Teen Movie. There are 18 deleted/alternate/extended scenes (with a "Play All" function… Yeah, Columbia!) containing some bits that are every bit as funny as what's found in the final cut of the film. Definitely check them out. The unedited music video for Marilyn Manson's cover of Tainted Love can be accessed, as well as photo gallery called The Yearbook. There are 7 Meet the Cast promos, which are funny little 30-second segments featuring a character from the film explaining who they are. A brief auditions montage has been included, as well as director Joel Gallen's first short film Car Ride, which is a bizarre 4-minute piece starring Jenny McCarthy. Test Your Teen Movie I.Q. is a funny interactive trivia game, which actually has more cast participation than the usual DVD trivia games. Finally, look for theatrical trailers (for Not Another Teen Movie, The New Guy, The Animal, Saving Silverman, Big Daddy and Loser) to round out the supplements. The icing on the cake would've been an outtake reel, but as they stand, the extras on this disc are excellent!

A surprisingly funny film and an excellent DVD, Not Another Teen Movie is an easy recommendation. Definitely give it a try, because damn, this shit's whacked!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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