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Get Over It

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Get Over It

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Colin Hanks
Director: Tommy O'Haver
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: March 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Mila Kunis, Michael Boisvert, Ed Begley Jr., Martin Short, Colin Hanks, Swoosie Kurtz, Shane West, Carmen Electra

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
No Rating Supplied

In 1998, Indianapolis filmmaker Tommy O'Haver became a hot commodity with his debut feature, "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss," a sweet, wonderfully imaginative and beautifully shot production. When I interviewed O'Haver, he was hard at work on a big screen adaptation of the beloved comic book, "Archie." "I'm rewriting the script and will be directing the film" O'Haver told me in '98. "I wrote the first draft as well. It's going to stay very true to the comic book. It's going to be like a live action comic and will be hip in its aesthetic. And yet these characters are going to be ultra-pure and squeaky clean, but there's going to be so much drama going on in their romantic lives that I hope people won't hold that against them. It's going to have dream sequences and musical numbers, some good catfights between Betty and Veronica."

Alas, the movie was not to be. The studio executives changed their minds and the highly anticipated "Archie" ended up shelved. But O'Haver was not to be denied. For his second feature, the young director has taken a thoroughly ordinary teen romantic comedy and added his distinctive touches, making "Get Over It" more engaging than most offerings in this tired genre. We may never see O'Havers' take on "Archie," but the stylistic flourishes here give us a good idea of what it might have been like. I don't want to oversell this production, so let me stress that "Get Over It" is no jewel. The script is only intermittently funny, good ideas are underdeveloped, most of the characters are barely even one-dimensional and the lead couple has no chemistry together. Still, I'm glad I saw it, thanks almost completely to Tommy O'Haver.

Set in Anytown, USA, the story introduces high school senior Berke Landers (Ben Foster), who was just dumped by Allison McAllister (Melissa Sagemiller). The pain of rejection heightens when Allison starts dating Bentley "Striker" Scrumfeld (Shane West), a smirking Brit from the 'N Sync-ish boy band Smalltown Lads (we get a brief look at the video for their hit, "Luv S.C.U.D.").

When Berke learns that Allison and Striker plan to audition for the school's spring musical, a "hip" take on Shakespeare titled, "A Midsummer Night's Rockin' Eve," the lovesick teen ignores the advice of his friends Felix (Colin Hanks) and Dennis (Sisqo) and sets out to join the production. Berke is tone deaf, but luckily, Felix's sister, aspiring singer-songwriter Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), offers to coach him.

Will there be tense moments between Berke and Striker? Will there be a big party where something disgusting happens? Will the drama teacher turn out to be a dictatorial queen? And will romance finally spark between Berke and Kelly? Anyone who has ever attended a teen comedy knows the answer to these questions. Happily, O'Haver brightens up the generic journey with some inspired touches. For instance, when the just-rejected Berke trudges away from Allison's house at the beginning of the movie, a production number breaks out behind him, with a garage band lip-synching to "Love Will Keep Us Together" while trash collectors and delivery men break into dance.

There are more treats, particularly during the latter part of the movie, when the school musical shifts into high gear. Martin Short plays drama teacher Dr. Desmond Forrest-Oates as a cross between Andy Dick and Fred Willard, tossing off lines like, "I remember what the great Robert De Niro once said to me. well, not to me, but I read it in an article." Short clearly has a field day throwing tantrums in the kiddy pool and, clichéd though his character may be, he is fun to watch.

The other adult characters in the cast are kind and understanding to an absurd degree, from the coach who tells a tardy player, "You are so lucky I'm not Bobby Knight," to Berke's parents, played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ed Begley Jr., who host an extremely lurid TV relationship show called "Love Matters."

Along with the pleasant surprises comes the requisite teen comedy gross-out bits. Viewers are treated to a pet pooch that humps anything and a drunken partygoer that barfs into a bowl of punch. O'Haver presents these scenes in a pedestrian manner, getting them over with as quickly as possible so he can focus on what he really wants to do.

The young cast is serviceable, doing what they can with their one-note roles. Only Kirsten Dunst comes off as an actual human being in this sea of lightly sketched cartoons. But the real star of this movie is Tommy O'Haver; who takes a lousy teen comedy and manages to spin it into a mildly entertaining feature. Even with his efforts, "Get Over It" is as insubstantial as meringue, but at least it's a tasty meringue.

Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott

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