Parody is the laziest form of comedy. It's a dreadful genre that has given birth to more disasters than true classics. For every "Airplane" or "Naked Gun," there are 1,000 knockoffs chomping at the bit for that box office gold. The secret to making a successful parody is to find a subject worth making fun of. The makers of "Not Another Teen Movie" (IMDb listing) apparently haven't done their homework since they've decided to lower their targets on the teen dramas of the 1980s and the putrid resurgence of the genre in the late 1990s. Didn't this last movement of teen films already act as a kind of post-modernist comment on what has come before? Nevertheless, this doesn't stop "Teen Movie" from lurching ahead with an appallingly bad platter of jokes and targets. Cinema just doesn't get much more lowly or painful than this.
At John Hughes High School (good lord!), "The Popular Jock" (Chris Evans) has made a bet with "The Cocky Blonde Guy" (Eric Christian Olsen) to turn "The Pretty Ugly Girl" (Chyler Leigh) into a hottie just in time for the prom. Yet, "The Cruelest Girl" (Mia Kirshner) and "The Bitchy Cheerleader" (Jamie Pressly) will stop at nothing to make sure this bet is lost. Also along for the ride are "The Token Black Guy," "The Obsessed Best Friend," "The Stupid Fat Guy," "The Desperate Virgins," "The Perfect Girl" and "The Foreign Exchange Student," who happens to walk around completely nude all the time (played by Cerina Vincent in a role that screams "Where was your agent when you agreed to this?").
Get it? They're all stupid teen movie character cliches! Awesome, huh? Yeah, I wasn't laughing either.
And it's that level of screenwriting that we must suffer through in "Not Another Teen Movie." Unlike the "Scary Movie" films, which ferociously went after the latest in popular culture to spoof, "Teen Movie" dips way back into the adolescent filmography to include digs at "Sixteen Candles" and "Pretty In Pink." These are hardly films that have had any impact on the demo that will ultimately line up to see "Teen Movie." Even "Risky Business" gets an opportunity for razzing. I dare any 17 year old to point that parody out in the film.
I'll admit that the John Hughes films they are poking fun at are dear to my heart. I understand they're dated now, and everybody and everything needs ribbing now and again. It's just that director Joel Gallen (painfully making his directorial debut) and the screenwriters just do not have a clue how to fashion a truly effective lampoon. In the end, they are taking scenes from other, better films and tweaking them only slightly so the permanently ironic generation viewing this trash will get the joke. They even go so far to show a clip of a sweet "Pretty In Pink" moment on a television in one scene before they go ahead and immediately recreate it. That's how much faith the filmmakers have in us folks. They don't even trust us to get the jokes!
So when they completely run out of gags they can siphon from the Hughes classics, or even recent pictures like "American Pie" or "She's All That," the filmmakers pour on all the bodily fluid jokes one could hope for. It's an act of desperation that doesn't go unnoticed, nor should it be discarded as mere parody. These poo and saliva gags aren't commenting on what has come before in teen films, but instead acting as outright theft of modern comedic devices by the artistically fraudulent numskulls that put "Not Another Teen Movie" together.
And what is with that title? "Not Another Teen Movie"... it's as if that picture already knows it stinks.
To make the bitter pill all the more easy to swallow, "Teen Movie" has included cameos by the stars of actual teen films to lend a distorted street cred to this tripe. Paul Gleason takes a shot at ending his career by reprising his role of Mr. Vernon from "The Breakfast Club." Lyman Ward, who once played Ferris Bueller's dad, shows up quickly in a cameo. The kicker cameo is Ms. (sniff) Molly Ringwald making an appearance toward the end of the film. How sad this is, as Ringwald, who's career was made from these films, should have known better than to agree to spoof herself. It breaks the heart to see such icons of the era trotting themselves around, as if this film is even remotely worthy.
"Not Another Teen Movie" is the bottom of the barrel. It's the fuzzy end of the lollipop. It's the wet spot after sex. Even the most despicable criminal in the world shouldn't have to suffer through what five knuckleheads (the screenwriters) and one former MTV producer (the director) think is the funniest collection of gags that has ever graced the silver screen.
Filmfodder Grade: F