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Cruel Intentions

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cruel Intentions

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe
Director: Roger Kumble
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: March 1999
Genre: Drama

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1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
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Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Writer/director Roger Kumble has transposed Choderlos de Laclos's 18th century French novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," which became a movie called "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988), into Manhattan's teenage uppercrust, where two wealthy, manipulative step-siblings (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe) specialize in emotional cruelty and betrayal within their prep school. When Gellar's dumped by her beau for a naive girl (Selma Blair), Phillippe wickedly seduces the awkward interloper, deliberately ruining her reputation. But that conquest was easy, so, in a nasal, whining voice, Gellar challenges the strutting Phillippe to a diabolical wager. Can he seduce the new headmaster's virginal daughter (Reese Witherspoon) who has written an article for "Seventeen" magazine about how she intends to stay pure until marriage? If he wins, Gellar agrees to have sex with him. If he loses, he must give her his vintage 1956 Jaguar convertible. How vindictive, perverse and callow can you get? In Christopher Hampton's "Dangerous Liaisons," Glenn Close and John Malkovich were, at least, sophisticated adults, even though their behavior was sinister and vicious at a time when a woman's "reputation" was crucial to her very existence. In this exploitative film, which is peppered with profanity, snide, silly, spoiled brats are behaving like...well, snide, silly, spoiled brats, and the parlor game plot unfolds more like the recent "She's All That," in which a guy bets he can get a girl, gets her, and then realizes he loves her after all. And, as if that weren't enough, here there are self-consciously incongruous subplots involving homosexuality and inter-racial sex. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Cruel Intentions" is a ridiculous, fumbling 4. It's a lame, trashy teenage soap opera.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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