Whatever It Takes

Bomb Rating: 

It takes the characters days to figure out what the audience knows instantly.

What's funny and ironic about films like "Whatever it Takes" is that the adults who write them think they have insight into the teenage mind because they remember themselves as teenagers. With all the reflective wisdom of Dan Quayle during his latest presidential run, they fondly remember all the stupid things they did, put them in the screenplay, and then expect today's teenagers to identify with it. The ironic part is that they reveal themselves to be even more stupid as adults.

Such is the case with these filmmakers and their riff on "Cyrano De Bergerac." The believability of the plot lasts all of about five seconds. Ryan (Shane West), who's friends with Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), wants Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). Ashley is friends with Chris, who wants Maggie. So, Ryan and Chris conspire to get each other what they want even though Ryan and Ashley have nothing in common and neither do Chris and Maggie.

Naturally, it takes the characters days to figure out what the audience knows instantly. Ryan and Maggie are neighbors and their balconies are like five feet apart. Furthermore, Maggie makes Ashley look like Linda Tripp, due in part to a rack from which you could hang a couple of deer heads and the kids' soccer trophies. But Ryan wants the vain Ashley and somehow gets the super-intelligent Maggie to fall for the selfish, idiotic Chris. This is also the kind of film where three people have a phone conversation requiring them to put each other on hold, so the filmmakers cut to the phone each time so you can see their fingers hitting the "hold" button, as if you couldn't figure that out.

During the course of all this, Ryan naturally ostracizes his geeky friends, which pretty much happens in every single teen comedy about a geek becoming cool. The film is also endlessly insulting to women who apparently don't exercise one iota of control over their lives and are easily manipulated by the simplest of plans hatched by teenagers. This film stops just short of the filmmakers' actual vision for young females, which is to line them up, legs spread, and have them willingly and stupidly submit to the wishes of every guy in sight.

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