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'Boys and Girls' not believable, not entertaining


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Ian Caruth
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
June 21, 2000
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Few serious moviegoers would deny that some of the most cinematic fun can be had from watching the worst movies.

Anyone brave enough to wade through "Return to the Valley of the Dolls" or "Reefer Madness" can confirm that great comedy is often found in the stilted acting, poor writing and inept direction of truly disastrous films.

Unfortunately, for every "Starship Troopers," with its ostentatiously bad cinema and wicked fun, there is a film like the quietly awful "Boys and Girls."

"Boys and Girls" takes place in a parallel universe where entire crowds break into carefully choreographed dances at nightclubs, super models love to fart and everyone - even greasy rock musicians and pubescent youngsters - has perfect skin. It ostensibly concerns itself with the oil-and-water relationship between nerdy Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and free spirit Jennifer (Claire Forlani).

Opening with the two clashing on an airplane at age 12, director Robert Iscove quickly deploys what seems to be a favorite device of his: the flash-forward technique.

In the next scene, Ryan and Jennifer are about 16 or 17 and in high school. Ryan arrives at college (the beautifully photographed Cal-Berkeley), and within minutes, he is a sophomore, dating Jennifer's roommate.

Only skeletal hints are provided as to what happens during these huge time leaps.

Throughout the film, Iscove tosses aside such outmoded storytelling concerns as "exposition," "character development" and "believability," in their place giving the audience lots of close-ups of pretty young people babbling endlessly about relationships and thinking very hard.

"Boys and Girls" can't seem to decide what sort of film to be: the marketing campaign makes the film appear to be a teen sex comedy, the spiritual descendent of the far superior "American Pie."

Indeed, while Ryan's sex-obsessed roommate Hunter ("American Pie" star Jason Biggs) is on screen, the action is far more fast-paced and risquŽ than at other times. Biggs, in a throwaway role with minimal screen time, provides the film's few laughs. At all other times, an eerie, expectant silence descended on the theater.

Ultimately, though, "Boys and Girls" is a romantic comedy, and a bad one at that. In a genre filled with stinkers, this one is particularly egregious - the writing is witless and nonsensical, the leads have no chemistry together and the film's treatment of love is sophomoric and confused.

There are shockingly few jokes and little on-screen action in the film's 94-minute (though it seems much longer) running time.

Conversations between characters go nowhere. Plot threads are picked up, only to be inexplicably dropped seconds later. Even the music is bland.

Iscove has made a movie that is hard to hate, and impossible to love. The film is too dull to inspire strong emotion. Not funny enough to be a comedy, not romantic or dramatic enough to be anything else, "Boys and Girls" only establishes itself as one thing: a failure.

Ian Caruth can be reached at catalyst@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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