December 13, 2020 7:17:10 am
Drew Barrymore has done finer work. And so has Molly Shannon, John C Reilly and a few other cast members of the 1999 romantic comedy Never Been Kissed. The title is unoriginal, so is the plot. But there is some redemption to be had, thanks to the high school trope of students thinking the only two things worth losing sleep over are their love life, and drab, slightly difficult assignments.
On the whole, the Raja Gosnell movie is an average affair — it has a mediocre script, okayish acting and tolerable direction. But in 2020, when all the days look the same, and nothing seems to be going your way, it is always good to kick back with a sweet 90s affair like this one. There are no complications so severe that cannot be solved, the heroine is a relatable figure — goofy, funny, adorable (and sometimes annoying). The male lead is swoon-worthy, and the setting is nostalgic to boot. While these are some of the pluses of the film, there is a lot of room for improvement. But, to the plot first.
Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) works for Chicago Sun-Times as a junior copywriter. To do research for a piece on contemporary teen culture, she must disguise herself as a high schooler. Upon landing in the school, Josie relives her misadventures and heartbreaks. And yes, emerges victorious in the end. Now to what didn’t work for this film. Never Been Kissed has an able cast with sufficient spunk. What fails them is the writing. It is derivative and lacks imagination. In fact, if it had not been for its charming lead, Never Been Kissed would have fallen flat. If what the makers wanted was a formulaic rom-com at the end of the day, there was a better way to do it. Look at your predecessors, please (read Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman).
Also, if Josie Geller’s high school English teacher today ‘encouraged’ her attraction for him, he would be immediately fired (at least that’s the hope). So viewed through the lens of the present, the premise of Never Been Kissed is faulty. It should have been inappropriate then too. But makers weren’t so conscious then. What they wanted to serve people was some romanticism for a couple of hours, which they almost succeeded in doing thanks to Drew Barrymore’s charming screen presence. As an aside, it was fun to watch the actor recently interview ‘Josie Geller’ on her successful talk show The Drew Barrymore Show, where the two exchanged notes on social media, music and the internet in general.
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You can watch Never Been Kissed on Disney Plus Hotstar.
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