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Never Been Kissed(1999)
Chicago Sun Times copy editor Josie Gellar (25), who was desperate to graduate from perfectionist copy editor to reporter, gets her chance when the goody owner orders the editor to cover the high-school scene by undercover. Josie, who was a frustrated, ridiculed nerd, gets a popular make-over from her drop-out, naturally funny brother Rob Geller. Both siblings find love and joys of youth again. But in Josie's case, it's sensitive bachelor teacher Sam Coulson, who enjoys sophisticated conversation. As the publication deadline approaches, the price of blowing their cover seems ever more daunting, yet inevitable unless she sacrifices her career.
For more about Never Been Kissed and the Never Been Kissed Blu-ray release, see Never Been Kissed Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on February 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, Allen Covert, John C. Reilly
Director: Raja Gosnell
» See full cast & crew
Never Been Kissed Blu-ray Review
Barrymore gets the Back-to-School blues.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, February 28, 2012
Never Been Kissed is three films in one. A kind of rom-com holy trinity, if you will. First and foremost, it borrows the very 21 Jump Street-ish plot of having a young-looking twentysomething go undercover in high school to get the scoop on illegal activities perpetrated by the cool kids. Following from that, it takes an ugly-duckling-finally-becomes-a-swan arc and then crash lands in forbidden student/teacher romance territory. So, there you go. Three films for the price of one. Unfortunately, they're three films we've seen many times before, and cramming them together into a single story only reinforces how unoriginal the entire effort is. Not that we expect most rom-coms to be original. This is the genre for which the term "formulaic" was practically invented after all, but still--these kinds of films need something to differentiate themselves from one another. (Let's face it, their pithy, too-cute titles all start to bleed together after a while.) Never Been Kissed does have one thing going for it--Drew Barrymore, whose company, Flower Films, also produced the movie. She's warm, funny, and energetic, not to mention the rare leading lady who's willing to be self-deprecating for a laugh. Is it enough? Not really. Never Been Kissed has its momentary charms, but like most rom-coms from the late 1990s, it has definitely aged awkwardly.
With her hair primly pulled back, Barrymore plays twenty five-year-old Josie Geller, the youngest copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She's the kind of buttoned-up word-nerd who knows the difference between "nauseous" and "nauseated," and who corrects her bumbling boss (John C. Reilly) when he says "interoffice" but really means "intraoffice." Oh, and she's never been kissed--not a real, knee-buckling, stomach-flipping, OMG-I'm-in-love kiss, anyway. She's too busy making a career, and she gets her first shot as a bonafide reporter when her paper's editor-in- chief (Garry Marshall) orders her to go undercover at South Glenn South High School and write an exposť on the real-world lives of teens.
I think it's safe to say, in general, that there are two kinds of people--those who would jump at the chance to relive their teenaged glory days, and those who couldn't be coaxed back to high school under pains of death. Josie falls into a third category; she sees this opportunity as a chance to re- right the mistakes of her gawky, unpopular past, when she wore fugly sweaters, had train-wreck braces, and was known around school as "Josie Grossie." Alas, her first day of class is a disaster. In some harebrained attempt to look with it, she shows up dressed in all white, with a white feather boa and white lipstick that gives her face the kind of deathly pallor you'd more typically see on a goth kid. Worse, in the cafeteria, when she tries to sit with the cool girls--one of whom is played by a super-young Jessica Alba--she spills chocolate milk all over herself.
The ignominies are just getting started. Never Been Kissed tasks Josie with surviving a nearly non-stop procession of ugly duckling embarrassments, and since she's wired with a hidden camera that beams a feed back to the newspaper's headquarters--reality TV! so 1999!--her entire office can sit around and watch what John C. Reilly's character calls "The All-Humiliation Network." She dances like an idiot at a concert after inadvertently eating a pot brownie. She wanders into school with the word "LOSER" somehow inked on her forehead. She flings a condom into a teacher's face during a sex ed lesson. It's all very exaggerated and goofy and typical--far from clever. There are few decent laughs here, but none that I can remember without consulting my notes, which says something.
Naturally, Josie falls in with the dweebs, a gang of math-geeks called The Denominators, led by the glasses-wearing Aldys (Leelee Sobieski), who's otherwise far too pretty to be convincing as an outcast. Our intrepid reporter's social standing takes a meteoric rise, however, when her slacker brother Rob (David Arquette) also re-enrolls in school, hoping to gain the attention of college baseball scouts while lending his sis some of his class- clown coolness. He breaks into the elite clique by besting another jock in a coleslaw-eating contest--sample dialogue: "I'm the coleslaw king of the world!"--and quickly spreads beneficial rumors about how rad Josie actually is. He may be daft, but Rob knows the #1 rule of high school popularity: "All you need is for one person to think you're cool and you're in. Everyone else will be scared to question it."
Of course, given that the film is called Never Been Kissed, you can expect Josie to eventually, you know, be kissed. Her love interest is her English teacher, Mr. Coulson (Michael Vartan), and though the script skirts around the naughtiness of a student/teacher romance, it never exploits the "danger" angle of the story quite like it could. (Which is disappointing, since the film could seriously use more edge.) Their relationship is underdeveloped, and the inevitable big kiss ending--which takes places on the pitcher's mound of a jam-packed baseball stadium--doesn't feel earned.
Nevertheless, it's hard to get too worked up about a film that's so bubbly and well-intentioned. This isn't a must-see movie by any means, but Drew Barrymore fans who enjoyed it the first time around may feel it's worth revisiting. (The dated, Tommy for Men smell of the late-1990s hangs too thickly on this one for me to personally stomach.) Along with The Wedding Singer and Ever After, this was the film that established Barrymore as a rom-com all-star. She goes all-out here, fully committing to the slapstick and the character's emotional transformation. But she doesn't carry the film alone. Never Been Kissed has a wacky cast of supporting players, from the always-funny John C. Reilly--who steals every scene he's in--to Molly Shannon as Josie's man-eating coworker. Little known fact: This was also James Franco's feature film debut. He plays a random cool kid with a handful of lines, and if you want to liven the movie up by playing a drinking game as you watch, Spot the Franco would be a good place to start.
Never Been Kissed Blu-ray, Video Quality
All of these late 1990s/early 00's rom-com reissues from 20th Century Fox have a similar look on Blu-ray; they get a modest bump in picture quality compared to their DVD counterparts, but probably not enough to warrant an upgrade unless you're a serious fan. That certainly goes for Never Been Kissed, which sports a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's suitably colorful and resolved without ever really wowing. I'm sure it has more to do with the source material than the transfer, but the picture is rarely sharp sharp; more often than not it sits in the middle ground, clarity-wise, neither particularly crisp nor especially murky. Even in close-ups, there's rarely a sense of finely resolved details and textures. Color is warm, though--usually suffused with a slight yellowish cast--skin tones are natural, and black levels/contrast are balanced well. The positive here is that the film has been treated faithfully--there are no signs of excessive DNR, edge enhancement, or other forms of filtering. You might notice some light noise mixed in with the visible grain structure, but there are no real compression issues or encode quirks. The print is clean too, with only a few errant white specks throughout the runtime.
Never Been Kissed Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The soundtrack also gets a modest boost by way of a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. We're in rom-com land, so don't expect action movie levels of sonic excitement, but the mix does a decent enough job of aurally conveying the film's hijinks and pop tunes. The real channels are used occasionally for quiet ambience--nightclub clamor, classroom chatter, etc.--but you'll hear little in the way of directional effects. The biggest use of the rear speakers is in giving some breathing room for the soundtrack, which consists of songs from Cyndi Lauper, De La Soul, Madonna, and others. Some of the music has a wide dynamic range, with bass interaction and clean highs, but most of the rest of the sound mix sits squarely in the middle range. Dialogue throughout is clean and easy to understand. The disc includes a large assortment of dubs and subtitle options; see above for details.
Never Been Kissed Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The lone bonus feature on the disc is a 2-minute theatrical trailer, in standard definition.
Never Been Kissed Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Never Been Kissed is a serviceable rom-com, light on laughs but filled with a kind of lovable good-naturedness thanks to the glowing Drew Barrymore and her highly pinch-able cheeks. Unless you're some sort of die-hard romantic comedy fan I don't really see any reason to upgrade from the DVD--the 1080p transfer is merely so-so, and there are no extras on the disc to speak of--but if you don't own the film yet and you want to, the Blu-ray is definitely your best bet.
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