Review of Never Been Kissed


Movie Review: "Never Been Kissed"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Release date: 1999
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance

A high school do-over is a concept that many adults would embrace. Some have awful high school memories to erase. Others would love to relive their glory days, but with a different outcome. "Never Been Kissed" is a movie that fulfills these desires as the main character, Josie (Drew Barrymore), chases a news story in the halls of her former high school. Along the way, she relives a few of her teen memories. However, Josie is ultimately confronted with the question of whether the do-over is such a great thing after all.

Josie Geller is a nerdy copywriter who is a stickler for grammar but is clueless in the social department. She is so socially awkward that she has never been kissed. Geller is scarred by her adolescent years as "Josie Grossie," the high school outcast. When her editor assigns an exposé about illegal activity taking place at the local school, Geller sees it as a second chance at the worst time in her life.

Through the help of her brother Rob (David Arquette), Geller works her way into the lives of the teens at school. She rebounds after a disastrous first day, with Rob coming on board as a jock. Rob's high school years were one of the best times of his life. He was popular and even had an exciting career ahead of him as a baseball player. As a teen, he threw it all away. While helping Josie, Rob decides that he can also relive his past and regain the future he forfeited years ago.

"Never Been Kissed" is a lot like the slew of other high school movies with female stars that were released in 1999. But instead of a newly minted teen star, "Never Been Kissed" has a seasoned actress at the helm in the form of Drew Barrymore. She takes what could have been cookie-cutter high school film and turns it into a movie that audiences can anticipate. Her sunny attitude and her way with the witty dialogue make her convincing as both a lovable high school student and an adult questioning her own motives for going back to high school.

The comedy is another standout in the film. David Arquette brings his brand of physical humor and goofball charm to the movie as Rob. He commits to Josie's project from the start, chugging a vat of school lunch room coleslaw to gain access into the cool crowd. Audiences will sympathize with Rob's need to change his adult life through Josie's project, even if his plan is not feasible. Another comedic powerhouse in "Never Been Kissed" is Molly Shannon, who plays Josie's best friend Anita. Her best screen scene is a sex education class that Anita is forced to teach after being mistaken for the health teacher. Those aren't the only familiar faces in the movie. Garry Marshall plays Josie's editor, and Michael Vartan plays Mr. Coulson, the English teacher whom all the girls have a crush on.

The do-over ruse cannot last. A conflict arises between Josie's job and her love interest, Mr. Coulson. She has made friends in the school as well. Rob cannot carry on his charade either. Both find that a trip back to reality and the adult world is necessary in order to get on with life. Ultimately, Josie does find love, a kiss, and a social life in an ending that ties up all the loose ends.

The funny, sentimental film works by playing on everyone's most cherished memories of high school. Whether you were the ridiculed ones, the popular bunch, or part of the nerd crowd, the movie touches on it all. "Never Been Kissed" lets you dream about going back for a moment before slipping in a reminder that high school really isn't what it is cracked up to be. Your memories may gloss over the small things that makes those four years a grind on all teens who have to live through them.

Barrymore is the key feature of the film that puts it ahead of the pack. However, her comedic sidekicks ensure that the film doesn't get too down on itself. Audiences will become attached to Barrymore's style as both the teen literary nerd and the adult social butterfly. "Never Been Kissed" is a light comedy, drama, and romance movie that is perfect for date night or a movie night with the girls.

Rated 3 out of 5 stars.