Cast & Crew
Comedy (US); 1999; Rated PG-13; 107 Minutes
Drew Barrymore: Josie Geller
Molly Shannon: Anita
David Arquette: Rob Geller
Michael Vartan: Sam Coulson
John C. Reilly: Gus
Produced by Drew
Barrymore, Jeffrey Downer, Sandy Isaac and Nancy Juvonen;
Directed by Raja Gosnell; Screenwritten by
Abbey Kohn and Marc Silverstein
by DAVID KEYES
so many child stars of her generation, Drew Barrymore wowed
audiences with a few good films, and then disappeared from
the scene for years and years, only to turn up at the end
a bigger star than one might have first imagined. After
mesmerizing audiences with her pretty face in "Firestarter,"
and her sad tears in "E.T.--The Extra Terrestrial" during
the late 70s and early 80s, the young blond slowly began
to fall out of the public eye, as reports of a terminal
drug addiction had been revealed across the headlines. The
image of a cute little girl quickly became one of a grown,
confused teen, as her strong addiction was reportedly started
at an early age, and nearly got the best of her at the height
of her minor years.
as luck might have it, she fought off her drug problem.
During that time she regained her sobriety, she also began
to relive her childhood success, finding her way back into
the scene of publicity with minor roles in some mildly successful
films. The spotlight once again beamed down on her in the
early 1990s, when she starred in her first serious role
up to that point in the teenage thriller "Poison Ivy." Since
then, she has appeared in several successful pictures, which
include "Scream," "Mad Love," and most recently, "Ever After:
A Cinderella Story." Each film succeeds to a point because
she is a display of incredible talent, bringing to her characters
the kinds of emotions and attitudes that no one else could.
To look at her now, and compare her to that child of "E.T."
is a difficult task. They are the same person, and yet so
much has changed. She has grown up, evolving into one of
cinema's most influential younger actresses.
Been Kissed," her newest effort, is such an example of a
jubilant return to the motion picture world. Like "Ever
After" and "Home Fries," here is a film that is lighthearted
and simple, but is made all the more appreciative because
of Barrymore's presence, which sometimes even turns a bad
film into an okay one (a la "The Wedding Singer"). Even
though "Never Been Kissed" could have been delightful all
the same without her help, she brings the movie honesty
and heart, two qualities which are necessary in maintaining
the film's big setup.
plays Josie Geller, a young journalist who works for the
paper that made Roger Ebert famous (for those who have been
living under a rock, the publication is called the Chicago
Sun-Times). The movie claims that she is only a young copy
editor, but the script provides her a big office and a secretary.
When the boss brings to her a proposal to write about high
school life, she is forced to be sent back into one of the
most painful memories of her past; the years she was considered
"Josie Grosie" by her not-so-intillectual peers. Oh, but
the bad memories seem to be worth it; Josie re-enrolls herself
at school, hoping to gain the popular status her brother
achieved, and she didn't.
let's face it: aiming for the high road can produce some
brief detours. Josie's first day back does not go so well;
at least, for the people around her, who gaze into her eyes
like they were competing in the Miss America pageant. Her
mistake might have been wearing white past labor day. Or,
as a peer points out, wearing white past the 1980s.
solution: she turns to her brother for advice. Naturally,
his advice has to be shown rather than told. Successfully,
he re-enrolls himself into school, acts like a complete
idiot, and is accepted by the first person who notices.
Thankfully Josie's tactics in gaining a new reputation aren't
quite as desperate.
to some of the early parley, the filmmakers consider this
entire setup a little "dreamlike," although the dialogue
eventually assures us that this is anything but a dream
sequence. The story of Ms. Geller's return to school, and
second chance to fit in, are convincing and realistic, much
more appreciative than most attempts made in the typical
"coming-of-age" movie. Even though some of it can lead to
unfeasible plot twists, maybe it's not so nonsensical to
consider all of this possible in the real world.
saw the movie twice; the first time paying attention to
Barrymore, the second time focusing more on the plot conventions.
Even though some of the treatments seem somewhat contrived
and moronic, they are lit up by the spectacular energy of
the characters, therefore allowing us to enjoy the film
in practically any way. It gives us hope, to distance ourselves
from the most embarrassing high school memories, so that
we can flourish into the human beings we want to be, but
have never had the chance to. Josie's story is more real
than the script seems to realize; one in which a kiss arriving
too late is better than no kiss at all.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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