A nail in the coffin if not the heart of teen comedies, “Not Another Teen Comedy” lobs some pretty feeble comic ammo at its easy genre target. Feature has five days or so to clean up with its target demo. Once similarly lowbrow “How High” opens, let alone “The Lord of the Rings” two days later, not another peep will be heard from this runway-stalled stab at “Airplane!”-style yoks until its video debut.
Actually, the more precise model here is “Scary Movie,” as signalled by opening seg in which heroine Janey (Chyler Leigh) is caught masturbating with a giant dildo in bed to a video of the ’99 Freddie Prinze Jr. “classic” “She’s All That.” This inauspicious start establishes pic’s overall tendency to mistake mere bad taste for outrageousness, and plain referentiality for satire.
As requisite “Pretty Ugly Girl” protag, glasses-wearing, unpopular Janey becomes the subject of a bet between rival WASP team quarterbacks Jake (Chris Evans) and Austin (Eric Christian Olsen) as to whether Jake can make-over her into this year’s Prom Queen. Dreamboat Jake has recently been dumped by uber-blonde cheerleader g.f. Priscilla (Jaime Pressly) for a “beautiful weirdo” (Riley Smith) styled on Wes Bentley in “American Beauty”–forever trailed by his floating plastic bag, in one of the better sightgags here–so romantic conflict isn’t an issue.
Other archetypes attending the unimaginatively named John Hughes High School include Janey’s Anthony Michael Hall-esque dweeb brother (Cody McMain) and his equally horny-desperate freshman sidekicks (Samm Levine, Sam Huntington); her just-like-Jon-Cryer-in-“Pretty in Pink” lovesick New Waver best friend (Eric Jungmann); Jake’s carnally predatory sister (Mia Kirschner); an “American Pie”-style foreign exchange bombshell (Cerina Vincent), etc.
Cluttered yet generally flat progress opts for potty-mouthing and grossout material (latter “peaking” when a hot babe swaps extensive tongue with an old lady…ewwww!) more often than absurdist verve. Even the de rigeur Big Football Game and Prom Dance setpieces fail to build much steam.
Pic briefly ascends to a level of decent silliness when all principals perform a prom-anticipatory song number. Surprise guest appearance by Mr. T isn’t a bad idea, but Molly Ringwald’s cameo at an airport-set finale unwisely makes her fire cheap shots at the only films she’s remembered for.
Elsewhere, scattershot script by five credited writers is not well served by former MTV Production VP Joel Gallen, making his feature helming debut. Staging is routine, comic timing often weak, less-than-stellar cast clearly left to its own devices. Those occasionally rising above, with little help from the material, are Pressly, Olsen, and in particular a vaingloriously Cruise-ifying Evans. Colorless Leigh makes one yearn for the comic finesse of “Scary’s” lead chicklet Anna Faris, though, while most support players strain in vain.
Soundtrack duly reprises many of the same 80s New Wave hits featured in original John Hughes teenpics. Yet for no evident reason beyond spurring CD sales (well, what more reason do you need?), most have been rotely re-recorded by new throwaway pop bands.
Tech and design aspects are just adequate.