Chicago reporter Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) returns to high
school on an undercover assignment to report about modern adolescents.
In her high school days, Josie was a geek with an uncool dress sense
and braces, and was the butt of many cruel practical jokes. In short,
her school years were a nightmare, and she is not exactly keen on
repeating it. But in returning to school and trying to fit in again,
the 25 year old misfit eventually finds herself and true love.
Never Been Kissed features the usual cliches of the typical
American high school comedy - the cliques, the nerds and the jocks,
the outcasts, the bitchy politics, and the climactic prom night - and
explores territory that will be familiar to audiences through a recent
spate of adolescent comedies (She's All That, Jawbreaker, Ten Things I
Hate About You, etc), albeit without the mean spirited streak. Never
Been Kissed also owes a huge debt to the films of John Hughes, which
virtually established the teen genre for the '80's.
However, the formula has also been cleverly dressed in the
familiar trappings of the romantic comedy, as the clueless Josie
discovers the pangs of first love. First time writers Abby Kohn and
Marc Silverstein have drawn upon their own experiences at high school
for much of the material, which adds a more personal element to some
of the action. The pair draw out some underlying sexual tension in
the growing attraction between Josie and handsome English teacher Sam
Coulson (Michael Vartan, from The Myth Of Fingerprints, etc).
Coulson's lectures on Shakespeare's As You Like It, and its themes of
masks and deception, underscore one of the principal themes of this
surprisingly entertaining and charming comedy.
Former editor Raja Gosnell, who made his directorial debut on
the formula-driven sequel Home Alone 3, is able to leave more of a
personal impression on this material.
Barrymore is not a conventional beauty, but the former wild
child has recently reinvented herself as a romantic lead with films
such as Ever After, the contemporary flavoured reworking of
Cinderella. Barrymore's willingness to play the awkward geek in
several scenes also adds a touching element to the film that works a
treat, and her enthusiastic performance lifts the film. She is well
supported by Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact, etc), Vartan, and former
pin up idol Jeremy Jordan, who plays the school hunk. David Arquette
provides the comic relief as Josie's brother Rob, the former jock and
high school drop out, who reluctantly returns to school to help boost
her popularity. Unlike some recent romantic comedies, Never Been
Kissed actually manages to offer a perfectly satisfying conclusion
that will have audiences leaving the cinema smiling.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King