“John Tucker Must Die” is a great title in search of the film to back it up. A useless bit of tween trash, the film is one long yawn, and another reason to hate almost anything that comes from the ugly touch of director Betty Thomas.Kate (Brittany Snow) is a wallflower starting over at a new high school. There she witnesses the power of John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe, “Desperate Housewives”), the school’s top basketball star and ladies’ man. After she encounters three of his infuriated secret girlfriends (Ashanti, Sophia Bush, and Arielle Kebble), the group makes an elaborate plan for revenge, using Kate as the bait. However, when John starts to weave his magic on the shy girl, she finds a different side to him that compels her to reconsider the fiendish plot.
"Not even Sophia Bush's dimples can save this"
Clearly I’m not in the target demographic for “John Tucker Must Die,” but should that excuse the appalling lack of effort from the production? I’m all for films with handsome “teenagers” (Metcalfe is 28 years-old, for the record), a tuneless pop soundtrack, and jokes about teachers, but when did teen films get so lazy? “Tucker” is blessed with a gum-snap title, and that’s where is stops trying.
Unfortunately for “Tucker,” it had the misfortune of being directed by Betty Thomas, the helmer behind two major reasons to hate Eddie Murphy these days, “Doctor Dolittle” and “I Spy.” Granted, Thomas also made the sublime Howard Stern bio-pic, “Private Parts,” yet as the years tick by, I’m pretty sure she had nothing to do with the quality of that gem.
Bless her heart, but Thomas is a 58 year-old filmmaker making a movie that is meant for tween slumber parties. It’s an uphill battle she can’t fight in good faith, leaving “Tucker” a dreary, autopilot directing job. The jokes are either unimaginative slapstick or giggly MySpace taboo topics (Sluts! Lesbians! Cute boys in panties!), and nothing here could be mistaken for even the most basic idea of “wit.” It’s just terrible, contrived screenwriting. “Saved by the Bell” did the same type of material on a weekly basis, and that show had ten times the creativity of “Tucker.” Plus, on that series, there weren’t any “nerdy” girls with out-of-nowhere six-pack abs either. Ahhh, Hollywood.
Also, would it have killed the film to cast anyone beyond their looks? Metcalfe might set hearts aflame on the small screen, but as the title character, he doesn’t offer much of a reason to be interested in him. John Tucker should be this impossible figure of charisma: the devil’s candy to girls just getting used to their breasts. Metcalfe, however, plays him…well, he just takes his shirt off a lot. Perhaps to Thomas, this is all the performance she required from him. And the less said about the women of the film, the better. They’re a steaming mess of clichés, bordering on a misogynistic holocaust.
I thoroughly hated “John Tucker Must Die,” but in the interest of full disclosure, the screening I attended had a sea of pre-teen girls giggling throughout the entire thing while their parents snored (one quite literally).If you’re above the age of 12, I wouldn’t step anywhere near this film. If you must go, bring a book to entertain you and some booze to wash away the memory of it afterwards.
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originally posted: 07/28/06 17:06:45