ZERO STARS/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras B+
starring Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Deon Richmond
screenplay by Mike G. Bender & Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson and Phil Beauman & Buddy Johnson
directed by Joel Gallen
by Walter Chaw The first thing one notices about Joel Gallen's Not Another Teen Movie is that it appears to have been shot on 16mm stock off the back of someone's truck--grainy and shaky, it's easily the cheapest-looking major studio release of the year. After a brief prologue in which our heroine Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh, whose character's name appears to spoof "Jason Biggs," the star of American Pie--that's as clever as the film gets) is caught by her entire extended family and clergy en flagrante with a giant mechanized dildo, the second thing one notices about Not Another Teen Movie is that it has no sense of timing, no sense of shame, and no reason for being.
Clearly inspired by the success of the Wayans Brothers' Scary Movie (one of this film's five writers is Phil Beauman, a veteran of Scary Movie and its sequel), Not Another Teen Movie is a would-be jape of the entire teensploitation genre from the heyday of John Hughes's oeuvre all the way through to more contemporary prurient garbage like Varsity Blues, Can't Hardly Wait, Road Trip, and the American Pie franchise. Along the way, Randy Quaid (as Janey's alcoholic Vietnam veteran father), Molly Ringwald, Mia Kirshner (taking on the Sarah Michelle Gellar role from Cruel Intentions as an incestuous harlot), and Mr. T have "so it's come to this" moments, the limits of bad taste in the pursuit of aggressively unfunny gags are violated, and Porky's becomes a Truffaut-esque treatise on adolescent self-discovery.
Janey is the "ugly pretty girl" about whom a bet is made between star jock Jake (Chris Evans) and his best friend, "cocky blonde guy" Austin (Eric Christian Olsen). The wager? That this pony-tailed, bespectacled, paint-stained, overall-clad late-bloomer can be turned into a hottie in time for the senior prom. It's telling that the film neglects the Carrie implications of the formula in favour of the She's All That implications: Not Another Teen Movie is a wilfully bad film that makes fun of inadvertently bad films and the results are predictably unwatchable. As with most of its kind since Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker's Airplane!, there isn't so much a plot steering Not Another Teen Movie as a series of crude sketches.
Most disquieting, Not Another Teen Movie is not only more tasteless than Scary Movie (remembering that Scary Movie featured a death-by-penis and a geyser of semen), but also that not a one of its gags registers so much as a chuckle. The funniest thing about the film (besides first-time director Joel Gallen's assertion that he "was able to shape this movie into a story and really develop the characters so that you root for them") is how it disagrees with even your lowest expectations. In fact, it seems for all the world that most of the skits lack a punchline--note especially an extended, embarrassed Breakfast Club vignette that appears out of nowhere, meanders around, and then ends, abruptly and awkwardly. Not Another Teen Movie is simply abominable and alarmingly sloppy--at no point does Gallen demonstrate the most rudimentary understanding of comedy filmmaking. Originally published: December 14, 2001.
by Bill Chambers I didn't dislike Not Another Teen Movie as much as Walter did, but then, I had the luxury of not watching it in a single sitting. What I can say in the film's defense, with regards to the DVD, is that Not Another Teen Movie doesn't look as bad on the small screen as Walter described his theatrical presentation. Letterboxed at 1.85:1 and enhanced for anamorphic displays, the image begins oversaturated and grainy (gritty's perhaps a more appropriate adjective, as the dancing pixels resemble video noise) but stabilizes after the film's opening credits. More problematic is the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which, while always active (notably during the football sequences), sounds slightly muddy in every channel and very rarely uses the subwoofer. All in all, a respectable mastering effort from Columbia Tri-Star for a low-budget comedy.
Arriving on DVD in an extremely padded Special Edition, Not Another Teen Movie's supplements include three featurettes, a glimpse at the cutting room floor, and more. "School's in Session" (9 mins.) covers the costume and production design and contains the first of many interview snippets with Mia Kirshner, who could make draining pus from an eye infection sound like the most sexual activity there is. "Class Clown" (9 mins.) pulls back the curtain on the practical special effects that enabled Leigh to appear is if falling through a crumbled staircase and a toilet to drop in on a classroom, and it's here that we learn how the film so closely approximated the feel of Bring it On's cheerleading routines. (When in doubt, steal the choreographer.) "My Freshman Year" (13 mins.), about Gallen making his directorial debut, is mostly a love-in from fellow crew and various cast members, though Gallen finishes by addressing the scathing review that Not Another Teen Movie received from THE WASHINGTON POST.
If extra nudity is what you're after, head for the selection of deleted and extended scenes (18 in all), in which you'll also find scrapped gags that didn't survive beyond the trailer. The unrated version of Marilyn Manson's video for "Tainted Love" (definitely edgier than the one in rotation on the music stations), an animated gallery of stills under the umbrella heading "Yearbook," 30-second "Meet the Cast" promos (organized according to the stereotypes the actors' characters fulfill), an easy "Test Your Teen Movie IQ" trivia game hosted by Gallen, Joel Gallen's first short film, Car Ride (starring Jenny McCarthy--I wish I could say I laughed), and trailers for Not Another Teen Movie (happily, the red-band preview that accompanied last fall's R-rated releases to the multiplex), The New Guy, The Animal, Saving Silverman, Big Daddy, and Loser round out the disc.
But wait, there are also three "commentaries" (I use quotes because the third is a subtitle fact-track relating Not Another Teen Movie to the sources of its parody). Gallen and co-writer Mike Bender (the pair who were previously responsible for the humorous MTV short"Mission Improbable" ) have a pleasant rapport in their recording session, but it, like the second commentary (of the having-a-good-time-wish-you-were-here variety and featuring Leigh, Evans, Pressly, and Olsen), is for connoisseurs of procrastination only. Originally published: April 16, 2002.