Slap Her, She’s French!
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
american comedy with a french twist In the wacky vein of Bring it On or Drop Dead Gorgeous, this colourful high school comedy centres on the ingrown lifestyle of suburban Texas. Like those other films, it's funny, sassy and enjoyable, even though the screenplay is rather weak. At the centre is Starla Grady (McGregor), the star student at Splendona High who wins every competition and controls the school's entire social structure. Then the French exchange student Genevieve (Perabo) arrives. With her quirky clothes, goofy glasses and perky beret, she seems all shy and cute at first, but slowly begins to sabotage Starla's carefully planned life, seducing her parents (White and Smith), her boyfriend (Czuchry), her pals (Aycox and Adi) and even her French teacher (McKean). Only her brainy little brother (James) and a love-struck campus journalist (Ford) remain on her side as she fights to get her life back.

No, the plot is nothing particularly special, and the writers don't bother to be too terribly clever, resorting to the cheap laugh more often than not--usually obvious puns and corny innuendo. But the characters are hilarious, and very well played by a slightly second-string cast. Why are there no top-line actors here (besides McKean and possibly Perabo and James)? There's nothing wrong with these performers at all--they nail the characters perfectly--but all of them resemble much bigger stars, which is rather distracting and just makes us wish there had been bigger-named stars involved. (Where's Kirsten Dunst when we need her?) But never mind, this is a brainless comedy that at least keeps us laughing fairly steadily with wry observations and a vicious sense of humour. The story's main twist is so glaringly obvious from the beginning that we're not remotely surprised. And at least it's a diverting way to spend 90 minutes, even if we forget everything immediately when the lights come up. But with a tighter script and a more stellar cast this could have joined the pantheon of great teen comedies.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 5.Oct.02

dir Melanie Mayron
scr Lamar Damon, Robert Lee King
with Jane McGregor, Piper Perabo, Trent Ford, Matt Czuchry, Michael McKean, Jesse James, Julie White, Brandon Smith, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Alexandra Adi, Cristen Coppen, Tony Glenn
release UK 18.Oct.02; US 8.Nov.02
02/US 1h29

Slap her! But wait, is she actually French at all? Hmmm I wonder (McKean, McGregor and Perabo)...

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send your review to Shadows... bonjour y'all Nun, net: 5 out of 5 stars "Best. Movie. Ever." (1.Jan.04)
© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall