Ten Years Ago: Not Another Teen Movie

6 Jan

As holiday movie releases tend to come out in droves before, during, and just after Christmas, this leaves January as a dumping ground for very few films, and most are generally worthless. In response, we here at 10YA prefer to use the month, at least in part, to track back to December 2001 movies that got lost in the shuffle. In his first re-view for the site, Geoff Doleman (L.A.-based cameraman, as well as hometown friend, high school/college peer, and former roommate of 10YA editor Marcus Gorman) delves into the oft-neglected genre of teen comedy through a 2001 spoof that may or may not have stood the test of time.

 

Let me begin this deal by saying that I am an unabashed fan of the teen comedy genre. I make no excuses and offer no apology for that. It is for just that reason that re-watching Not Another Teen Movie and re-viewing it seemed like such a good idea. I am no more a writer than I am a physicist (well, ok, maybe a smidge more), so I present this as a stream of conscious flow stemming from my re-watching of the film.

I liked this film when it came out. I doubt I saw it in theaters, but I bought it on DVD for full retail price, as opposed to waiting for it to be on sale, which says something. I have subsequently seen it many times, though the last time was probably a couple years ago. I am looking forward to seeing it again, but I also doubt it will hold up all that well.

The opening scene is an homage to American Pie’s opening scene. American Pie brought the return of the teen comedies of yore. There were some from the mid-nineties that were okay, but nothing like Animal House, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, or Dazed and Confused (which I always forget is from 1993, but I’m still going to count that as early ‘90s, meaning my earlier point stands). As an example, I love me some Kevin Smith View Askewniverse movies, and I love Mallrats (1995), but I wouldn’t really say it fits in the teen comedy genre (maybe stoner comedy, but more likely just straight up comedy). American Pie brought back the mainstream crude sex comedy, and any number of flicks that have come since can trace their roots back to it. For this, and for introducing me to the genre, I have always regarded it extremely highly, but recently I saw Hot Moves (1984). American Pie is almost a direct rip-off of Hot Moves, down to the toasting with sodas at a table after making the pact and whole sections of dialogue being nearly identical. How is this not widely known? Anyway, if I get one person to check out Hot Moves, then that sidetrack was well worth it.

Hah, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) from How I Met Your Mother has a couple short appearances in Not Another Teen Movie. It’s always cool when you are watching older movies, to see actors who weren’t famous then, but are now.

One thing that these current incarnations of teen comedies have done is ratcheted up the crudeness and gross-out humor. Scatological humor in particular is just not that funny to me. This flick resorts to it on a couple occasions. They didn’t do that as much back in the day in the mainstream movies. Even the lowbrow straight-to-VHS stuff didn’t rely on it as much as modern flicks. In some ways this is a natural progression, much the same as how female nudity used to be used to get a reaction, then it became expected, and now male nudity is being used to get a reaction. I’m not sure I want to know where we are going to go after male nudity becomes expected, but I guess we will find out.

Nice. In response to the proclamation that they should make a pact to get laid, a character responds with something like, “Aren’t we always trying to get laid?” That’s a damn good point. Wouldn’t a couple teen guys making a pact to get laid be like a couple of people lost in the desert making a pact to find water? I mean sure, it’s possible, but it really isn’t up to you.

Not Another Teen Movie skirts the line between being too glossy to be considered a successor to the ‘bad’ stuff, but it’s too cheesy and lowbrow to really be considered a good flick. It’s strange, I have seen the old school ‘bad’ stuff like Zapped, or Hot Dogs, or even Bikini Beach, and even with the terrible dialogue and bad acting, they are still mostly watchable. The post-American Pie-straight-to-DVD stuff is significantly worse. Maybe the fact that the older ones are very representative of the decade (s, but mostly the ‘80s) they were made in. They ooze ‘80s out of every line, every setup, and every piece of scenery. That makes them kind of nostalgic, and thus more watchable. I am sure that when they were made they were viewed as the same drudge that we view modern straight-to-DVD flicks as.

There are genuinely funny moments in this flick. The shot of Jake looking at a photo of himself looking at a photo of himself was a nice quick joke. Incidentally, speaking of actors back in the day, Jake was played by Chris Evans of Captain America fame. I knew he looked familiar. But the problem that many of these spoof films have is that they take jokes too far. It’s not easy to spoof comedy, nor is it easy to make a spoof that isn’t over the top, so these guys aren’t especially bad, but there are moments where you see that they might have been able to make a more nuanced flick but went for the easy joke. The characters more or less split up like this, too. All are exaggerated archetypes, but while some characters, like Malik (token black guy) really work, many don’t. The whole ‘nerd’ crew is too far over the top, and Ricky (the lovable best friend of the dressed down, but secretly hot girl, who is madly in love with her) is more annoying than funny.

Yes, I did just suggest that films in this genre can be nuanced.

The football game makes me miss Friday Night Lights. That show did football scenes right. I don’t know that it had ever occurred to me until right now that football season and prom season are at opposite ends of the school year. They never really addressed that, and just kind of skipped straight from that last football game into, BAM, it’s prom time! Maybe it was intentional, but since they never addressed it, it probably wasn’t. That is disturbing.

As previously mentioned, this flick was among my favorites when it came out on DVD. I watched it many times, but had put it aside recently. After re-watching it, I am still entertained, and will probably watch it again, I don’t feel I need to do so again anytime soon. This is another downside to spoof flicks, as they rely heavily on references and can become dated extremely quickly. Not Another Teen Movie avoids this a little bit by spreading out its references out over at least 20 years, but it is heavy on references to films that came out between 1999 and 2001. Many of them (Cruel Intentions, anyone) are dated and stale, and bring the whole flick down. On the whole, as much as I wanted to enjoy this film still, it just didn’t hold up a decade later.

When “Grey’s Anatomy” meets the Marvel universe.

One Response to “Ten Years Ago: Not Another Teen Movie”

  1. Scott January 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    I love this movie – I actually rented it off Amazon a week or so ago (it wasn’t on Netflix :( and I was surprised by how well it held up. I’d say the film has aged considerably well, given that it was sort of the precursor to all of these film spoofs we’ve seen in recent years (you gotta remember, after Hot Shots/Mel Brooks stuff in the early 90s spoof movies were really rare).

    The only problem with younger people watching it now is that they would have to watch all the 80s movie it references, plus 90s crap like American Pie, Cruel Intentions, etc.

    Weirdest part was saying Melissa Joan Hart again. She always struck me as a middle aged woman type of lady even when she was a teenager. That’s one relic that never made it out of the 90s.

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