Hoping to fit in, a high school outcast starts telling outlandish lies, only to have them come true in “Full of It.” Hormonally charged comedy is bound to make parents uncomfortable, as writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore add a sexual dimension to the kind of after-school-special premise that might appeal to 10-year-olds (but is here twisted to suit older teens). Director Christian Charles’ “Weird Science”-style result isn’t exactly raunchy, but should be titillating enough to find some life on the slumber-party circuit after being largely ignored during its limited bigscreen run.
Judging by the current crop of juvie movies, the greatest challenge facing today’s youth is fitting in at a new school. From “Hoot” and “How to Eat Fried Worms” to “Bridge to Terabithia,” it seems like every kidpic these days begins with a slightly awkward student thrust into a new environment where — to echo the central anxiety of “Carrie” — “they’re all going to laugh at you.”
At first glance more stylish than its peers, “Full of It” rapidly slips into the cliches of the genre as Sam Leonard (Ryan Pinkston) endures the uncomfortable stares and locker-room humiliation of being the new kid at Bridgeport High. Since Pinkston appears so much shorter and less developed than the other seniors, the casting alone allows helmer Charles to skip over the otherwise obligatory exposition.
After consulting the school’s guidance counselor (Craig Kilborn, as perhaps the most irresponsible such authority figure since Matt Dillon in “Wild Things”), Sam spins a few white lies — he drives a Porsche, his dad’s a rock star and so on — only to wake up the next morning to find they’ve all come true. Some of the ideas would be perfectly welcome in a kids’ movie (the old “dog ate my homework” excuse manifests a family pet that will stop at nothing to do just that), while others are decidedly less innocent.
Where Sam was a nobody the day before, suddenly both his English teacher (Teri Polo) and the head cheerleader (Amanda Walsh) can’t seem to keep their hands off him. At home, his mild-mannered mother (Cynthia Stevenson) — now an avant-garde artist — has covered the walls in sexually explicit tableaux. And Carmen Electra drops by unannounced to smooch Sam in front of his friends.
It’s hard to feel much satisfaction in these transformations, however, since the pic has already introduced Kate Mara as the school’s only well-adjusted teen; her Jennifer Garner good looks and Julia Roberts smile clue auds in early where Sam’s attention should really be focused. Seeing her sidelined merely prolongs the agony of waiting for Sam to realize the movie’s all-too-obvious “be careful what you wish for” lesson.
Auds will have outgrown such a moral anyway. The film’s identity crisis even carries into its tech credits: Though elegant, Kramer Morgenthau’s artful lensing feels out of place in a pic like this.