John Tucker Must Die
Stars: Jesse Metcalfe, Ashanti
Director: Betty Thomas
* (out of five)
What’s happened to the movies? Why do people think John Tucker Must Die is something that anyone, teenaged or otherwise, will want to see? And if it makes money this weekend, should I even come to work on Monday?
John Tucker Must Die is a movie so profoundly contemptuous of its audience that it expects they will just sit quietly and take it, ignoring the tone-deaf pop references and cynical representation of teenagers, absorbing the finely calibrated product placements and then trotting out to buy the soundtrack on their way home.
The plot is stolen from a bunch of other teen movies — there’s the one about the super-confident jock who dates lots of girls at once, only to be found out and made to suffer comically, and the one where the cool kids turn a misfit into a hottie in order to prove a point, and the one where the narrator’s mother flees town every time she breaks up with a guy, and the one where Joey poses for some photos that get used in an STD spot — oh, wait, that was on Friends. But it’s in there.
Along the way, there are creepy intimations of teenage drinking and sexual activity, a cheap lesbian gag and the inevitable fart joke. The cast is attractive but inert, and the soundtrack is padded with the usual collection of ’80s covers, presumably to invoke the spirit of John Hughes without doing any of his heavy lifting.
Betty Thomas directs the proceedings with such a lazy gloss that it’s unclear whether she ever bothered to visit the set; she could easily have designed the whole picture in a software program, and let nanobots construct it while she drove up to Big Bear for the weekend.
I’ll say it again: Kids, this movie thinks you’re stupid. Don’t prove it right.