starring Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
screenplay by Mark Richard & Kimberly Peirce
directed by Kimberly Peirce
*/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey
screenplay by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb
directed by Robert Luketic
by Walter Chaw The only thing really wrong with MTV--besides the fact that they don't show music videos anymore--is that its branding on some of the most vacuous, appalling celebrations of vanity, stupidity, and acting-out in the not-exactly-sterling history of the medium has spawned a rash of imitative programming. It's cheap to turn a few cameras on pretty idiots fucking each other figuratively and literally in resort locales, and so now there are Tiffany versions of this ("Survivor") on broadcast networks and sewer versions of this (those Flava Flav things, Anna Nicole's old show) on struggling basic-cable outlets. (Cartoon Network even has an animated send-up of "The Real World".) And if the genre momentarily appeared to be on the verge of extinction, it suddenly found new life with the recent writers' strike. Because a good many films nowadays are populated by pre-fabricated tween (and post-tween) stars, I have no idea who they are until they're shoved into my consciousness as "stars"; indeed, MTV's dread influence on popular culture has extended itself (hand-in-hand with Titanic's mammoth babysitter's-club popularity) into the multiplex. Too ephemeral for any nickname (no "brat pack" here, just a revolving door of fresh meat), the real legacy of MTV might be that it functions as a microcosm for the lost youth phenomenon in the United States: In every Britney Spears, I see a Virginia Tech. Promise the terminally untalented the moon and repay them with a goat's portion of disappointment, disillusionment, and frustration bound to simmer to a foul boil.