Mushy stories are actually a good thing. You cannot tell me this 1999 romantic-comedy is anything but good. Normally it’s indicative that they’ll tell a romantic story that, yes, might make us roll our eyes with its clichés but won’t make us cringe by its lack of true romance.
Never Been Kissed (1999) Film Review
High school was not the highlight of Josie’s life. In fact it is a distant and none-too-pleasant memory, and something she is loathe to be reminded of. Now Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a 25-year-old budding journalist who’s working as a copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. The youngest person to be working in that position, Josie is a stickler for words and using them in the proper context which helps in her aspirations to rise to a real investigative journalist someday, and she gets her chance when her boss, already sore with his employees incompetence after a rival paper nabbed a story, sends her undercover – at a high school. Excitement outweighs the idea of going back into such a scene, but upon her re-entrance, she learns little has changed.
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Under pressure from her bosses, Josie desperately tries to fit into the ultra-popular world of the “cool kids.” With a little bit of help from her brother (David Arquette), the two of them play at being high-schoolers… again. Fitting into a crowd she is some eight years removed from proves to be one of the worst experiences of Josie’s life, but for her career, she is willing to give it her best shot. Complications arise when she starts to fall for her teacher, Sam (Michael Vartan).
For years now, I have been saying that I was going to rent this and never got around to it. Anything predating the early 2000’s or thereabouts as regards “modern” film-making is kind of a turn-off, although I do occasionally indulge in the era. Basically, they’re so outdated (and I am not including the black-and-whites in such a comment: they are classics) in fashion, script and film-making it is laughable. (Chances are, in another ten, twenty years all of the movies of my day, will be in much the same boat) Never Been Kissed is a really sweet concept – and despite it all, I loved it.
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Drew is adorable (as expected); all giggles and somehow, totally innocent in her portrayal of Josie while everyone else is either a comical side-kick; a lovable but totally irresponsible younger brother (who has to hear from a sixteen-year-old to get a life!); or a wonderfully poetic Shakespeare teacher. Either way, each of the characters are insanely likable – and fun! Plus we get to see an as-yet-unknown and young Jessica Alba, and Leelee Sobeiski before she became Joan of Ark.
This script puts in a lot of heart, and I like how writers deal sensitively with most topics that might have had us frantically reaching for the remote control otherwise. Josie’s written proposal on which the movie closes is special and the movie doesn’t try to make the high school kids who are mean out to be acceptable behavior, instead Josie sees through them, and encourages them to “grow up” because years from now, none of this will matter. Maybe it isn’t the best source material since it comes from Hollywood, but its messages are sweet and lessons to learn from, and live by.
What are some of your favorite “outdated” flicks?
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You can rent or own Never Been Kissed digitally on Amazon Video or find on DVD.
CONTENT: Josie’s best friend at the newspaper is a bit of a flirt and engages in one-night stands; plus one reference is made to anatomy and naming body parts. Elsewhere, in roundabout ways, students talk about who they “did it” with. Josie’s ignorance in the dating world is admirable. She hasn’t ever really been kissed and during a sex-ed class, which is relatively tame she encourages her classmate to be sure that the guy she is with is the “one.” The film is PG13.
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