http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6193&reviewer=321

Rules of Attraction, The

Reviewed By wintermute
Posted 11/22/02 06:49:37

"This train-wreck of a film just keeps hurting you for almost 2 hours"
1 stars (Total Crap)

I am sure that somewhere, there exist home movies of a young Roger Avary on the potty, deep in concentration, trying to earn a gold star on the little chart his mommy set up for him. Well, call Guinness, because I think Avary deserves the world's largest gold star for dumping the stinking pile of precocity entitled 'The Rules of Attraction' on an unsuspecting public.

Rules of Attraction is a dull, bloated 4th year film project that should never have been foisted on the shoulders of trusting ticket buyers. The notion that anyone out there would enjoy watching James Van Der Beek, Jessica Biel and Shannyn Sossamon wander aimlessly through a semester at a fictional college with no classes, no homework, and no plot makes me want to auto-erotically asphyxiate myself in front of a group of senior citizens.

That this film made me want to do the Michael Hutchence dance is no small testament to the lack of effort on the part of the main players, encapsulated so well by the performance of Van Der Beek. He manages to maintain what he must have thought of as a menacing sneer throughout the entire film, but instead it comes across more as the expression of a man who has some laughably evil secret in his pants that he won't share with anyone. His float through this film would serve as the perfect advertisement for passive-aggression control through the miracles of Zoloft. The fact that his character, Sean Bateman, is supposed to be the younger brother of notorious on-screen psycho Patrick Bateman, played with such cool menace by Christian Bale, is completely ridiculous. It is painfully evident where the brains went in that family.

Van Der Beek bounces off members of the supporting cast like a rotten crabapple trapped in a disused pinball machine. Jessica Biel plays her supporting role of party-going coke bunny like a single life-preserver would have supported the victims of the Titanic. Shannyn Sossamon would like to be able to rely on her girl-next-door looks, but the truth is, she can't. Roger Avary doesn't know this, but Avary is so obsessed with gimmicks like reverse-motion scenes and played out teenage debauchery. Sossamon's tedious obssession with her virginity is in direct contrast with the lack of care she affords its maintenance. Like most characters in this film, she is inconsistent and serves merely to play a specific role in the director's misguided view of the college life he never had in Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Iam Somerhalder, in the role of Paul Denton, is the only actor to escape the suction of Avary's cinematic tailspin. His portrayal of Paul, the genuinely kind but simultaneously jaded student who does both Jack and Jane - or is it just Jack - is the only spasm of effort to be found in the main cast. Russel Sams breathes a few gasps of life into the rigor mortis constricting this film with his turn as Dick. His vibrant, irreverent Tim Robbins-as-Navy-pilot impression is easily the best scene in the film. A close second, of course, is Fred Savage plumbing the depths of his junkie soul with a needle in his arm, which on second thought now seems completely unnecessary. A glowering James Van Der Beek agrees.

Horrifically executed, monotonously narrated and precociously edited. The end credits also roll backward. Need I say more?

Unless you are the kind of person who goes into heroin withdrawal for kicks, avoid this film like shark-infested custard. My doctor told me that this film took 110 minutes off of my life. No wait a minute, that was my watch. Don't make the same mistake I did.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.