Review

Teeth Review

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Jan 18, 2008 | 4:50am EST

Dawn (Jess Weixler) has grown up in the shadows of two giant nuclear power plant towers in a suburban American town and as she reaches the ripe age of sexual maturity she discovers that there are teeth in her nether regions. That kind of explains why her stepbrother Brad (John Hensley) has this love/hate relationship with her because as a child his hands wandered where they shouldn't have and he was bitten on his finger. Brad has grown up to be a tattooed sex renegade while Dawn has joined the teen abstinence movement The Promise and is one of their featured speakers. One of the Dawn falls for one of the Promise guys Tobey (Hale Appleman) as they try to resist their teenage passions for each other--to no avail. Yeah it isn’t pretty. Soon Dawn asks a gynecologist Dr. Godfrey (Josh Pais) to check her with equally devastating results. Can Dawn have a sex life without emasculating her admirers? Only the brave dare try. The cast of young actors is relatively unknown partly because director (and former actor) Mitchell Lichtenstein said it was hard to convince any actor to take the part. The girls would have the stigma of being "that girl" with the strange problem and the guys would--for the most part--be known for having their most private parts bitten off. Nevertheless Weixler does an astounding job taking a chance after her stint on daytime soap One Life to Live and a few other minor movie roles. Blonde innocent and with a quirkiness much like Anna Faris in the Scary Movie films Weixler is delightful. She plays Dawn like a bewildered superhero rather than a hapless victim. Likewise Appleman as the good-looking all-American horny teen is quite likable and Pais as the creepy gynecologist is completely hysterical. The guy who steals the show as complete creep however is Hensley (TV’s Nip/Tuck and The Sopranos). He's so evil when he finally gets his remarkable comeuppance (one that you'll talk about for a long time) cheers of approval and groans of disgust will most likely come from the audience. Writer/director Lichtenstein who you might remember from Ang Lee's Wedding Banquet deftly mixes horror and comedy within Teeth. The film is at once dark and frightening as well as being hysterically funny without turning campy. It’s a tall order to fill especially when dealing with a myth that has spanned ancient cultures worldwide and pits guys against their deep dark subconscious fears of castration but Lichtenstein crafts the story by incorporating other teen concerns such as the censoring of drawings of the female anatomy in high school science books and the movement by some teens to pledge themselves to stay virtuous until marriage. The director also knows how to push his actors into dark and uncomfortably humorous situations. All woven together Teeth is a comedic cautionary safe sex tale.

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