Writer/director Amy Heckerling, whose last film was 1995's delightful
CLUELESS, is back this time with LOSER, which is two movies at war with
each other. One is a lame teen comedy that you've seen a hundred times
before, but the other is a cute romantic comedy about a love triangle.
They get roughly equal screen time, which makes viewing LOSER
alternately frustrating and enjoyable.
New college student Paul (Jason Biggs from AMERICAN PIE) is featured in
both parts of the story. Paul, who wears a ridiculous hat, is a clumsy
"loser" whom nobody likes. Actually, of course, he is the nicest person
in the movie. He studies hard while his roommates drink heavily and
slip date-rape drugs to their girls. For his nerdiness, his "friends"
treat him like dirt and haze him at every opportunity. There is little
fresh material in any of these episodes, and the less said about them,
Thankfully, there is another part to the film. In it there is a love
triangle involving Paul and the girl he loves, Dora (Mena Suvari from
AMERICAN BEAUTY). Dora, who is as cute as a button, is trying hard to
make it through college by working as a waitress in a questionable
nightclub. In order to make ends meet, she eats things like those
little free containers of milk and of honey. Suvari, who was so
alluring but catty in AMERICAN BEAUTY, is wonderfully likeable this
time, even if her character seems to be going for the wrong guy.
Dora doesn't realize that Paul loves her even though he takes care of
her when she's sick and hangs out with her. Her heart beats for the
handsome college professor, Edward Alcott, with whom she is having an
affair while taking his English Literature class. As a sarcastic
bastard, Professor Alcott, Greg Kinnear (Oscar nominee for AS GOOD AS IT
GETS) gives the show its bite. The professor is an anal-retentive type
who is deeply in love -- with himself. He couldn't care less about
Dora, although she conveniently provides him sex, as well as tea made to
his precise and demanding requirements.
Dora, who, after being fired as a waitress, thinks her biggest problem
is a lack of employment, finally finds an unusual way to make money
without working. We can see, however, that her real difficulty is her
entanglement with Professor Alcott and her obliviousness to Paul's love.
There aren't many surprises in this part of the story, but at least it
has characters worth caring about or, in the case of the professor,
sneering at. Now if we could just have seen an edited version with the
canonical teen comedy parts deleted -- that would be a movie worth
LOSER runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for sexuality, language, drug and
alcohol abuse and mature themes and would be acceptable for most
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes