Paramount via Everett Collection
We all know the saying about how you can't pick your relatives but you can pick your friends. Unfortunately, in high school, most people are limited to those other poor souls that are slouching through the halls to get from class to class.
Every teen movie made has seemingly adhered to some form of the cliques that occur in high school, those groupings based on looks, interests or intelligence that make up the social caste system. What if, however, you could make your own clique, using characters from those films that fit into those stereotypical profiles? It would certainly have made for a more entertaining high school experience, as well as at least one killer party. Who would we pick? Here's our choices...
VIEW GALLERY: The Ultimate Teen Movie High School Clique
The supernatural thriller The Rite is a different kind of literary adaptation a film not “based on” or even “inspired by” a written work but rather “suggested by” one. The degree to which this fictional film adheres factually to its source material Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of an American Exorcist is anybody’s guess. Fans of The Exorcist might argue that it’s more strongly “suggested by” William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic than anything else.
Erstwhile unknown Colin O’Donoghue in his first feature role plays Michael a seminary student sent to Rome to learn the intricacies of demonic possession. A pronounced skeptic who isn’t even sure he believes in god much less the Catholic doctrine of exorcism Michael is inclined toward the more humanistic view of the “possessed” as simply disturbed or schizophrenic individuals. What they really need he insists is not a priest but a good psychiatrist. (That belief certainly won't endear him to the Church of Scientology.)
To rid him of such malignant pragmatism Michael’s headmaster (Ciaran Hinds) ships him off to serve an apprenticeship under Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) a Welsh Jesuit (shorthand for “eccentric”) and practicing exorcist. Having been around the theological block a few times Lucas reacts to Michael’s unbelief with wry nonchalance (a Hopkins specialty and the film’s most appealing trait); he knows that Satan’s arguments will prove far more convincing than any he might offer.
And Satan gets to work forthwith first using a pregnant Italian girl as his vessel then incorporating other representatives of the animal kingdom tormenting Michael with horned frogs and red-eyed demon mules. At first exhibiting admirable restraint director Mikael Hafstrom eventually employs just about every weapon in his terror arsenal bombarding Michael with harrowing visions and flashbacks (he grew up in a funeral home with an undertaker father played by Rutger Hauer who had a habit of bringing his work home with him) which offer ample opportunities for cheap scares. His trump card of course is Hopkins whose character eventually becomes possessed himself thus allowing The Rite to fulfill the Lucas/Lucifer conceit we all knew was coming.
The Rite varies wildly in tone with Hafstrom seemingly unable to decide if his film is to be a moody serious-minded psychological thriller or some campy outlandish horror-comedy. By the time Father Lucas becomes possessed and the reenactment of the first great celestial battle begins the film gives itself wholly over to the latter. As channeled by Hopkins the devil comes off as a less eloquent more vulgar version of Hannibal Lecter taunting Michael with naughty words and voraciously devouring scenery. The Dark Lord as a dirty old man is something of a novel concept I suppose. Scary? Maybe a little. Creepy? Oh hell yes.
Eric Windows Hutch Zoe and Linus are the very definition of Fanboy -- five lifelong friends who live for everything George Lucas dishes out at least when it comes to Star Wars. Realizing that the suddenly ill Linus may not live long enough to see the upcoming Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace the gang sets out on a long dreamed-of adventure: criss-crossing the country to go and break into Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Northern California. Their amended goal now is to try and steal a print of the unfinished movie for Linus to see before it’s too late. Fanboys has been lovingly cast with a promising group of young actors who instantly get the wit and charm of a smart and funny screenplay that is tailor-made for the inner-Jedi in all of us. As Linus the heart of the film Chris Marquette perfectly captures the obsessive never-give-up nature of a devoted Star Wars freak. Equally fine are Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) as Windows Sam Huntington as schemer Eric and paunchy and funny Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) as Hutch whose van is used to get to their golden destination. Also along for the ride is Kristen Bell as Zoe the lone girl in the group who apparently loves this stuff as much as the boys. She provides a nice welcome diversion. Showing up in cameos are Seth Rogen and a raft of Star Wars figures including Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams. Even Star Trek’s William Shatner makes a brief amusing appearance. Director Kyle Newman wrapped Fanboys in 2006 only to have the studio take it back have it partially reshot to remove the cancer subplot and then see it trashed on the Internet by real-life Fan boys offended by the studio tinkering. Newman was brought back in and recut the film to its original state and its a good thing. Fanboys is a blast a sweet surprise for the new year –a wise tribute to obsessive sci-fi fans everywhere.
Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) a smooth L.A. music exec used to be shy fat and the butt of jokes back in high school. The only bright spot was his close friendship with Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart) a super-popular cheerleader. He of course wanted to be more than just friends but she just didn’t feel the same way. Fast forward to the present Chris has turned into a calculating ladies man who finds himself back in his hometown. He runs into the lovely Jamie and the old feelings resurface. He tries to woo her as the new and improved Chris. But unbelievably Chris finds it even more difficult than ever to escape the clutches of the “friend zone”--or as Chris describes “the penalty box of dating in which a guy becomes a complete nonsexual entity in her eyes like her brother or a lamp.” Ah a zone many men have stepped into. Reynolds’ glib sense of humor has brightened some pretty bad films (Blade: Trinity) and even a horror film (The Amityville Horror). But unfortunately he isn’t nearly as effective as the romantic comedy lead. His consistent sardonic delivery soon starts to grate. And while Smart (The Butterfly Effect) is delightfully perky and down to earth as Jamie there isn’t much zing with Reynolds--another big red flag. However there are some bright spots. Anna Faris (the Scary Movie series) nearly steals the show as a whiny no-talent pop singer whose diva-esque behavior hits close to home. Also hilarious is Christopher Marquette (The Girl Next Door) as Chris’ girl-crazy younger brother. Watching the two brothers slap the spit out of each other is just plain good stuff. Just Friends actually has a pretty good set-up which makes it all the more disappointing the film can’t completely hold up. Roger Kumble (The Sweetest Thing) just paints by the numbers never really offering anything new or different. The best parts are the flashbacks to the early ’90s when the overweight Chris is lip-synching “I Swear” in the mirror or writing the 100 reasons why Jamie is such a great girl. It really will take some of us back a bit. But as you sit there mildly laughing at the film’s earnest attempts at pure hilarity you can’t help wonder what this film would have been like in the hands of say the Farrelly brothers. Just Friends could have definitely used some of There's Something About Mary’s mean-spiritedness and crude bathroom humor.
Let's compare. Like Risky's Joel (Tom Cruise) Girl Next Door's Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a straight-arrow overachieving high school senior who wants to get into an Ivy League school and also like Joel he has a horny best friend (Chris Marquette) who urges him to live a little first. In Risky Business Joel falls for the lovely Lana (Rebecca DeMornay) a high-class call girl with a heart of gold and watches his orderly world go haywire especially when Guido (Joe Pantoliano) the killer pimp shows up trying to drag Lana back and nearly ruining Joel's college plans. In Girl Next Door the love interest is the beautiful Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) a onetime porn star who moves in next door captures Matt's heart and rocks his orderly world--but instead of a killer pimp Danielle's pursued by a killer porn producer named Kelly (Timothy Olyphant) who's trying to get her back in the biz. Kelly eventually threatens Matthew for interfering and gets the kid into big trouble nearly blowing his college chances. In both movies Joel and Matthew come up with an elaborate plan to make things right--and aided by their newfound girlfriends and the girls' "work" friends the scheme not only gets them all off the hook but makes them a lot of money as well. See? Same-same--almost.
It's not really the actors' fault they're stuck in a retread. Hirsch who was quite good in The Emperor's Club a Dead Poets Society facsimile is particularly appealing as Matthew. Although he's not as good at doing the wide-eyed-innocent thing as Cruise was Hirsch deftly handles Matthew's burgeoning wild side with comic aplomb especially in the scene where he accidentally takes ecstasy before attending a fancy dinner where he tries to win a scholarship. Cuthbert (TV's 24) however isn't nearly as effective as her co-star or her predecessor. Although the actress certainly looks the part of former porn star Danielle Cuthbert doesn't have that sultry sharp-as-a-tack sensibility DeMornay had in Risky Business. Danielle is more world-weary than anything else and Cuthbert never convinces you that a porn star--even a reformed one--could ever give up her jaded outlook to be with an idealistic high schooler. In the supporting roles Matthew's over-sexed best friend Eli played by the geeky Marquette (Freddy vs. Jason) spouts some amusing quips that never reach the memorable level of the classic "Sometimes you gotta say 'What the f**k '" from Risky Business while Olyphant (HBO's Deadwood) fares well as the menacingly charming Kelly the only character in the film you refreshingly can't quite figure out.
When Risky Business debuted in 1983 the film was an instant classic. It spoke to the male teens of its generation and it made Tom Cruise a bona fide star. No one will ever forget that love scene on the train when Joel came of age with a call girl nor will we forget that he innocently peddled prostitution to get out of a jam. The film was one of the first to portray on-screen teens in a whole new light. (Remember John Hughes' teen angst melodramas like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club came later). Girl Next Door's director Luke Greenfield (The Animal) is obviously a fan patterning his film after the classic with the same beats the same structure and even the same music. Certainly Girl Next Door brings the idea of a Risky Business to a new generation of male adolescents--who will no doubt drool over the whole porn aspect of it. But unfortunately Girl Next Door lacks Risky's irreverent charm.