×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Teeth

Yanking the ancient myth of vagina dentata up to the present day in a treatment combining outright gore, social satire and freakish comedy, "Teeth" bites off more than it can chew. It will be few guys' notion of an ideal date movie.

With:
Dawn - Jess Weixler Brad - John Hensley Dr. Godfrey - Josh Pais Tobey - Hale Appleman Kim - Vivienne Benesch Bill - Lenny Von Dohlen Melanie - Nicole Swahn Gwen - Julia Garro Phil - Adam Wagner

Yanking the ancient myth of vagina dentata up to the present day in a treatment combining outright gore, social satire and freakish comedy, “Teeth” bites off more than it can chew. A game, disarming lead performance from Jess Weixler, who won a jury acting prize at Sundance, goes some way toward making palatable this mish-mash, whose provocative nature could carve out a certain commercial niche. All the same, it will be few guys’ notion of an ideal date movie.

Pic’s bold high concept, in which a professional teen virgin discovers she has a set of sharp choppers between her legs, demands perfect pitch, as well as stylistic savvy, for the intended dark comedy to come off. It’s a tall order, to be sure and, in an ideal world, it might have combined the conceptual outrageousness of ’80s Almodovar with the Spanish master’s more recent filmmaking smarts.

Alas, first-time writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein, son of artist Roy and a one-time hunky aspiring thesp when he debuted in “The Lords of Discipline” in 1983, lacks the command to keep the tone consistent when this is what the film needs most. The early going holds promise, as blond, earnest Dawn (Weixler), leads a school chastity movement called the Promise. Dawn has little trouble holding herself to its strict standards until she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), an upstanding lad who professes similar beliefs.

Nature takes its course, however, and in a moody Garden of Eden-like sequence under a lakeside waterfall, Tobey pushes Dawn too far. As much to her surprise as his, Tobey pays the ultimate price for his transgression, as is made graphically clear in shots of a crucial body part on the ground after it’s no longer attached to Tobey.

Dawn sensibly visits a doctor to determine what she’s got down there, but he, too, suffers a painful fate for trespassing. And so it goes, with tentative psychological probings of Dawn’s dawning awareness crossed with increasing levels of gross-out horror comedy, all to gradually diminishing returns.

One of the script’s weirdest formulations involves the heroine’s sinister half-brother Brad (John Hensley), a belligerent, tattooed and pierced heavy-metal freak who lives under the same roof with Dawn and their dad and is acting out a lifelong sexual obsession with her. Resolution of this relationship isn’t pretty either.

“Teeth” has a generally heavy, vaguely unsavory feel that, fortunately, is lightened by Weixler. Resembling an entirely appealing cross between Heather Graham and Kate Winslet, Weixler is prim and determined at the outset, but injects a gathering intensity of curiosity to her character as the untoward events accumulate. By allowing her to become neither victim nor monstrous avenger, young thesp keeps Dawn engagingly real.

Shot in the Austin area, pic could have used a brighter, sharper visual style to punch up the irreverent elements.

Teeth

Production: A Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate release. Produced by Joyce Pierpoline, Mitchell Lichtenstein. Directed, written by Mitchell Lichtenstein.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Wolfgang Held; editor, Joe Landauer; music, Robert Miller; music supervisor, Beth Amy Rosenblatt; production designer, Paul Avery; art director, Tom Cole; set decorator, Sally Hamilton; costume designer, Rita Ryack; sound (Dolby Digital), Ben Lowry; supervising sound editors, David Briggs, Lewis Goldstein; prosthetic effects supervisor, Doug Field; visual effects, TexFX; line producer, Rick Chaplin; associate producer, Richard Lormand; assistant director, Kathleen Tull; casting, Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Crowley, Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 20, 2007. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- Panorama). Running time: 94 MIN.

With: Dawn - Jess Weixler Brad - John Hensley Dr. Godfrey - Josh Pais Tobey - Hale Appleman Kim - Vivienne Benesch Bill - Lenny Von Dohlen Melanie - Nicole Swahn Gwen - Julia Garro Phil - Adam Wagner

More Film

  • Aladdin

    China Box Office: 'Aladdin' Opens on Top With $19 Million Weekend

    Disney’s “Aladdin” opened on top of the Chinese box office with a less than magical $18.7 million debut weekend. According to data from Artisan Gateway, the film beat previous chart winner “Detective Pikachu” which earned $7.5 million in its third weekend. That score advances the cumulative China total for “Pikachu” to $83.3 million. The Guy [...]

  • 'Nina Wu' Review: Stylish, Glitchy, Provocative

    Cannes Film Review: 'Nina Wu'

    “They don’t just want to take my body, they want to take my soul!” So runs the overripe line of dialogue that actress Nina Wu (Wu Kexi) has to repeat again and again in “Nina Wu,” the fascinating, glitchy, stylish, and troublesome new film from Taiwanese director Midi Z (“The Road to Mandalay”). Nina practices [...]

  • 'All About Yves" Review: Feeble French

    Cannes Film Review: 'All About Yves'

    Benoit Forgeard’s dorky “All About Yves,” bizarrely chosen as the closing film of 2019’s Directors’ Fortnight selection in Cannes, is literally about an intelligent refrigerator that ascends to Eurovision fame as a rapper. Imagine Spike Jonze’s “Her” played for the cheapest of laughs, shorn of atmosphere, and absent all melancholic insight into our relationship with [...]

  • 'The Bare Necessity' Review: Offbeat, Charming

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Bare Necessity'

    A perfectly charmant way to, as the song has it, forget about your worries and your strife for 100 airy minutes, writer-director Erwan le Duc’s “The Bare Necessity” is a breezy little sweetheart of a debut, that threatens to give the rather ominous description “quirky French romantic comedy” a good name. In its dappled countryside [...]

  • Adam

    Cannes Film Review: 'Adam'

    With her debut feature “Adam,” Maryam Touzani allows her audience to sit back and relax comfortably into a beautifully made, character-driven little gem that knows when and how to touch all the right buttons. Taking the stories of two women, both frozen in existential stasis, and bringing them together in a predictable yet deeply satisfying [...]

  • 'To Live to Sing' Review: A

    Cannes Film Review: 'To Live to Sing'

    After his taut, impressive debut “Old Stone” which tracked with nightmarish relentlessness the high cost of compassion in modern urban China, Canadian-Chinese director Johnny Ma loosens his grip a little to deliver a softer, if not necessarily less pessimistic examination of the failing fortunes of a regional Sichuan Opera troupe. “To Live to Sing” is [...]

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content