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