There are traditions in modern teen flicks: the title is a throw-away remark. The high school prom takes preference over everything. Ditto the end-of-year play. Sex gags are obligatory, the more extreme the better. Love doesn't exist, except between the leading players. Grown-ups are idiots and teachers bores.

Tommy O'Haver has taken these principals and freshened them up. For once, you feel that someone is messing with the formula and it looks good. Imagination is a rare ingredient in a genre that makes no demands on quality.

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Berke (Ben Foster) and Allison (Melissa Sagemiller) were childhood sweethearts, until her parents moved to another state and he was left with a brutal case of 11-year-old heartache. Imagine his surprise, when she bumps into him again six years later at high school. He has grown into a quiet, thoughtful type, while she has the figure of a model. They get back together and he thinks every day is Christmas, until one day she announces it's over.


"I'm bored."

It's a killer. He refuses to admit she's a bitch and how could she do this and... He'll win her back.

What he doesn't realise is that she's woken up to the fact that she's a knockout and the sexy, cool guys are telling her so. Berke's nice, but he's no pin-up prince and doesn't rate on the cheerleaders' Top Five. The truth is, he's worth twice the conceited stud, Striker (Shane West), she ends up with.

Enter stage left, his best friend's little sister, Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), who is almost perfect. Berke is blind to anyone else and so doesn't notice, but uses her to give him tips on how to win Allison back. The first thing is to join the school theatrical society, run by Dr Forrest Oates (Martin Short), a man of exaggerated self-importance and emotional instability. They are doing A Midsummer Night's Dream, with a full musical score - songs by the mad Doctor, including one beautiful ballad slipped in by Kelly, much to his annoyance.

Berke is given a part that demands he fights Striker and kisses Allison. Suddenly, he likes being an actor and Kelly's pleased too, because she's in the play and they can rehearse together. Meanwhile, the stud-U-hate is planning an explosive special effects surprise for Berke.

Despite a plot that reads like something out of Teen Romance, the film has great style and a wicked sense of humour. Foster is reminiscent of the young Matthew Broderick and Dunst can play sweet'n'lovely with genuine feeling. Short is in his element. He goes over the top with all guns blazing.

Berke recovers alright. The question is, does he deserve someone as good as Kelly? That's a whole other movie. Hopefully, with a dance score as exhilarating as this.

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2001
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Teenage romcom sees a boy try to win back his lost love while ignoring a much nicer girl right under his nose.
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Director: Tommy O'Haver

Writer: R Lee Fleming Jr

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Melissa Sagemiller, Sisqo, Shane West, Colin Hanks, Martin Short

Year: 2001

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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