THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


One thing you can count on about teen comedies: they're always either really good or excruciatingly bad. The good ones understand something about young people and their problems; the bad ones use a lot of forced humor to hide their inherent stupidity about their subject. For five minutes or so, I thought the new teen comedy Get Over It was going to be one of the smart ones. It starts off with a clever intro. We meet Berke (Ben Foster), a high school kid who is head over heels in love with Allison (Melissa Sagemiller). After dating for more than a year, she abruptly breaks things off, hands him a box full of his belongings, and shoves him out the door. In an unbroken 4-minute shot, Berke walks sadly down the street while a chorus of people (led by pop singer Vitamin C) dances behind him, lip-syncing the Captain and Tenille chestnut "Love Will Keep Us Together." The irony in that scene is wonderful, but it's just about the only good moment in the film.

After being dumped by Allison, Berke goes into a tailspin. He entertains thoughts of winning her back, but then she hooks up with a (predictably) obnoxious new guy - a British boy-band singer named Strike (Shane West). Strike convinces Allison to join him in auditioning for the school play, which is being directed by a (predictably) megalomaniacal drama teacher (Martin Short). The play is a rock-and-roll version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Berke decides that he might be able to impress Allison by trying out for the play himself. Since he doesn't sing or dance, he gets some coaching from his best friend's sister Kelly (Kirsten Dunst). She is cute and sweet, and she (predictably, again) has a crush on Berke. He, of course, is too infatuated with the not-as-cute, not-as-sweet Allison to notice it.

This formula has been done a million times before. It's even been done well (remember the John Hughes comedy Some Kind of Wonderful?). Get Over It unfortunately can't find any new inspiration in the well-worn ideas. This is, after all, a movie desperate enough to have a running gag about an overly hormonal dog. Here's a fundamental rule of filmmaking: if you need to rely on a dog humping everything in sight to get laughs, you are not making a good movie.

The scenes with the dog are painful to watch, but not nearly as bad as the ones involving Berke's parents (Swoosie Kurtz and Ed Begley, Jr.). They're TV sex therapists who give their son condoms as freely as they give romantic advice. There is a very belabored scene in which Berke gets harnessed up by a dominatrix (Carmen Electra) in a sex club that is then raided by police. Instead of being upset, his parents offer him a choice: stop for frozen yogurt or go home so that he can "polish the rocket."

Kirsten Dunst and Mila Kunis are pretty hot and tempting to their male peers in Get Over It
There are dozens of other examples of the movie's bad humor, but there are bigger problems as well. Here's a major one: I didn't like Berke. He's a whiny, dour little creep. Allison was right to give him the old heave-ho. Strike is not much better, but there is every indication that she will dump him eventually too. Because I did not like Berke, I found it impossible to care about Kelly, the only moderately sympathetic character in the whole film. She spends way too much time pining over this loser (when she's not shooting him with a crossbow, that is) instead of finding a guy who appreciates her. When Berke finally (finally!) realizes he's in love with Kelly, we want her to run away screaming. The little twerp doesn't deserve her.

Get Over It was directed by Tommy O'Haver, who burst onto the indie scene with the well-received Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss. As bad as this new film is, there is promise for him to do bigger, better things in the future. Some of the stylish techniques he uses (like that opening shot) would have worked in a smarter story. To its discredit, the screenplay here keeps going in the wrong direction. Instead of dealing with the pain of his breakup, the script works overtime to force Berke into this new relationship, which we don't care about anyway. A lot of movies make that mistake. An exception is last year's great John Cusack film High Fidelity, which really explored the loss people can feel after a breakup. Get Over It would have done well to learn a few things from that movie. If the kid really is so broken-hearted about losing his true love, why did the filmmakers think we'd want to see the dog hump a basketball?

( out of four)

Get Over It is rated for some crude/sexual humor, teen drinking and language. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
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