[Screen It]


(1999) (Drew Barrymore, David Arquette) (PG-13)

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Romantic Comedy: A 25-year-old, first-time reporter, hoping she doesn't have to relive her geeky past, returns to high school to do an undercover story on teenage life.
Josie Geller (DREW BARRYMORE) is a 25-year-old copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times who longs for two things in her life. Having not been popular in high school and still clueless regarding her personal life, she yearns to really be kissed by a man who's perfect for her.

Since she doesn't know how or when that will happen, she spends most of her time wanting to be a reporter. She gets her chance when the paper's publisher, Rigfort (GARRY MARSHALL), desiring to know what's going on with his own teenage kids, decides that Josie should return to high school as an undercover reporter and get him a newsworthy story.

Her immediate boss, Gus (JOHN C. REILLY), isn't so sure she's right for the job, although her coworker and best friend Anita (MOLLY SHANNON) thinks she can do it. It's not until her brother Rob (DAVID ARQUETTE), a guy who works in a packaging store whose life hasn't improved since his school days, reminds her that she was a complete geek in high school and that everyone called her "Josie Grossie."

Nonetheless, and trying her best to fit in as a teenage student, Josie enrolls in South Glen South High School. Her efforts are immediately thwarted, however, by her clueless sense of style that causes other students to pick on her, such as a trio of snobbish girls, Kirsten (JESSICA ALBA), Kristen (MARLEY SHELTON) and Gibby (JORDAN LADD), and the school's resident hunk, Guy Perkins (JEREMY JORDAN), who reminds her of her former, but unreciprocated high school crush.

Fortunately, fellow geek Aldys (LEELEE SOBIESKI), a smart student who doesn't care what others think about her, befriends Josie. Things begin to look up even more when Josie meets her English Literature teacher, Sam Coulson (MICHAEL VARTAN), a handsome fellow who's drawn to Josie's burgeoning -- if currently hidden -- maturity.

With her and Gus' jobs on the line, Josie, with some help from her brother, does what she can to fit in with the popular kids, see if there's any possibility of a romance between her and Sam, and get a story back to Rigfort before she's fired, all while rigged with a miniature surveillance camera that allows everyone to watch her every move.

Since it's a teen-based comedy starring Drew "Ever After" Barrymore, it's a good bet that her fans and teens in general may just want to see it.
For sex-related material and some drug content.
  • DREW BARRYMORE plays a sweet-natured but clumsy and insecure copy editor whose geeky past comes back to haunt her when she reenters high school as an undercover high school student. As such, she lies about her identity (for her job) and in one scene get high from unknowingly eating some food laced with pot.
  • DAVID ARQUETTE plays her brother who suddenly gets his chance to relive his high school glory days by similarly posing as a high school student.
  • MOLLY SHANNON plays Josie's sex-obsessed friend.
  • MICHAEL VARTAN plays Josie's nice high school teacher who falls for her despite incorrectly believing that she's a seventeen-year-old student.
  • LEELEE SOBIESKI plays a smart and self-assured student who's considered to be a geek because of her smarts and nonconformist ways.
  • JESSICA ALBA, MARLEY SHELTON and JORDAN LADD plays the most popular, but snobbish girls in school who make fun of Jessie until they're led to believe she's cool, which also holds true for JEREMY JORDAN who plays the school's resident hunk.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Nearly everyone, at some point in their lives, has looked back on their past and thought, "If I only knew then what I know now," particularly relating to their often turbulent high school years. With such hindsight and a time machine, one could go back and pay more attention and thus get better grades, participate more and definitely be more popular.

    While such thoughts are probably foreign to teens who haven't had the experience and/or time to develop such personal reflections, that's somewhat of the thrust behind "Never Been Kissed," the latest teen-based romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore.

    A mostly enjoyable, but extremely flimsy romantic comedy that crumbles under the slightest scrutiny, the film somewhat succeeds, but only due to the sheer charm and winning ways of lead actress Barrymore ("Ever After," "Home Fries"). Perfectly portraying the geek character in a funny and endearing fashion, Barrymore is the only reason to see this film that without her would otherwise be instantly forgettable.

    Quite similar in structure to the 1985 film, "Just One of the Guys" where another aspiring female journalist similarly goes undercover at a high school -- this time in the guise of a male student -- this picture doesn't offer nearly as many complications -- comedic or romantic -- and plods along with only a few moderately entertaining moments.

    The most notable and successful of them involve flashbacks to Josie's early high school years as well as a scene set in the present where she unknowingly manages to have the word "loser" printed on her forehead as she walks around her high school much to the delight of the other students. Unfortunately, such moments are few and far between.

    The film is also reminiscent of a plot element from "Peggy Sue Got Married" where Kathleen Turner gets to return to her own high school years (via a time traveling dream) and relive them through an adult's perspective. Sadly, director Raja Gosnell ("Home Alone 3") who works from a less than inspired script from first-time screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, has only included one such joke and subsequently wasted a great deal of comic potential.

    Of course to be fair, Barrymore's character is only seven years out of high school and hasn't changed her clumsy, geeky ways. Nonetheless, the filmmakers could have used that comic potential, but instead have let it slip through their cinematic fingers. Similarly, they thus miss the chance for the film to play better to audiences long since graduated, as well as the potential for showing how high school life changed over the years (although they do briefly include a shot of some hallway metal detectors).

    What's really missing, though, is the much needed comedic and romantic complications that would have made the film much better. While some minor ones are marginally present -- Josie and her teacher fall for each other and there's the constant, but barely used threat of her and her brother's identities being discovered, there's just not that much present to keep things interesting.

    At least in "Just One of the Guys" there was the constant need for the protagonist to hide her gender, as well as plenty of romantic complications involving her initial boyfriend and another guy she falls for who thinks she's really a guy herself. Alas, little of that fun material is present here.

    Instead, we're treated to more stereotypical, snobby and otherwise one-dimensional student characters and some unbelievable moments such as director Garry Marshal as the newspaper's editor who assigns a copywriter to do a major story, an English Literature teacher presiding over a sex-ed class to name just a few, and the newspaper wiring Jessie with a miniature surveillance camera so that they can watch her every move.

    Beyond Barrymore's fun take, the film's other performances are delivered with mixed results. David Arquette ("Ravenous," the "Scream" films) has fun with his character's return to high school, while Molly Shannon ( TV's "Saturday Night Live"), John C. Reilly ("Boogie Nights") and Michael Vartan ("The Myth of Fingerprints") are all adequate, but certainly not very memorable in their roles.

    The only standout is Leelee Sobieski ("Deep Impact," "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries") who continues to look ever more like a young Helen Hunt with every subsequent film (and is a shoo-in for "Mad About You: The Early Years" should that ever be made). Portraying a smart and confident young woman, Sobieski is a breath of fresh air in a sea of otherwise unremarkably stereotypical teen roles and performances.

    Nonetheless, Barrymore's oozing charisma, charm and the ability to laugh at herself in a less than glamorous role makes up for much of the film's deficiencies. Despite its predictable, romantic comedy nature, and its structural problems and lackluster plot development, the film still manages to be somewhat guiltily entertaining and even manages to throw in an effective, sentimental ending. Certain to please less-discerning die-hard romantic comedy fans, the film is enjoyable in its own lightweight, bubble-gum way, but could and should have been much better. As such, we give "Never Been Kissed" a 5 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated comedy. Some sexually related talk occurs in various scenes, a few characters show varying amounts of cleavage, and a sex-ed scene has students practicing putting condoms on bananas. Another scene has Drew Barrymore's character unknowingly eating some pot-laced food and consequently getting high, while other scenes include some drinking, some of which involves teens.

    Profanity consists of 2 "s" words and a small collection of other words and phrases, while some other imitative behavior also occurs. Some of that includes students being mean to others, and the protagonist and her brother posing as high school students.

    Beyond that, however, the remaining categories have little or no major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for you or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at the listed content.

  • A photo in Josie's place shows her and other people holding drinks.
  • Aldys tells Josie that all students do at a popular nighttime hangout is "stand around and get drunk."
  • We see Rob drinking beer while watching TV.
  • People, including Sam and his girlfriend, have drinks in a club. It's there that Josie sits with some Rastafarians who give her a piece of "special cake," and one of them goes on to say that it's "ganja cake" (meaning there's pot in it), but she doesn't understand that and eats it anyway. Moments later, she's laughing up a storm from being high, goes up onto the stage and dances while the band plays, and later we see that she got a case of the "munchies" and has eaten an entire pie.
  • Josie attends a party where other students are drinking, including the three popular girls who hold martinis.
  • Newspaper staffers drink beer while watching Jessie's prom on a surveillance TV.
  • Rob's prom date admits to having had some champagne.
  • We see a newspaper surveillance guy and his date with drinks.
  • None.
  • Josie's office assistant ignores helping her while being too busy talking on the phone.
  • We see a flashback where other students make fun of Josie and chant in unison, "Josie Grossie." We also see students draping toilet paper from her backpack and pouring a soft drink into it (with her unaware of either).
  • Students in the present make fun of Josie at school and she discovers that Guy has "stolen" her car and hidden it, and disconnected the battery as a practical joke.
  • Sam has some of both for allowing himself to fall for Jessie (while thinking that she's only seventeen).
  • Guy tells Josie and Aldys that the "dog park" is down the street, a guy calls Aldys "Alpo," and later he and the trio of popular girls prepare to throw dog food onto Aldys after setting her up to appear popular.
  • In a flashback, we see that the most popular guy in school has asked Josie to the prom, but that night as he rides up in the limo, he appears with his real date and then throws some eggs at Josie that break open on her prom dress.
  • Josie has to abruptly break off her friendship with Aldys so that she can get in with the trio of popular girls (for her story).
  • Both Josie and Rob have some of both for posing as students, and he has some of both for agreeing to go out with a sixteen-year-old girl, notwithstanding her age.
  • Some men give Josie some pot-laced food without her knowing what she's getting.
  • None.
  • Sword: Worn by Guy with his prom costume.
  • Phrases: "Holy sh*t," "Balls" (testicles), "Grab the bull by the balls," "Losers," "Kick ass," "Geez," "Hotties," "Pain in the ass," "Nuts" (crazy), "Shut up," "Friggin'," "Rufus" (a word that Guy makes up and wants everyone to use), and "Screwed" (nonsexual).
  • We see a flashback where other students make fun of Josie and chant in unison, "Josie Grossie." We also see students draping toilet paper from her backpack and pouring a soft drink into it (with her unaware of either).
  • Josie discovers that Guy has "stolen" her car and hidden it, and disconnected the battery as a practical joke.
  • In a flashback, we see that the most popular guy in school has asked Josie to the prom, but that night as he rides up in the limo, he appears with his real date and then throws some eggs at Josie that break open on her prom dress.
  • We see Rob downing a huge vat of coleslaw in an eating contest with another student, and then blowing a huge wad of it back into the air upon his victory.
  • A student rides a board (perhaps made of plywood) down the stairs at a party.
  • Rob dresses like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" (dress shirt, underwear and socks) for their "famous couples" prom.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A Beach Boys song that plays at the end of the movie has the line, "When she makes love to me..."
  • At least 2 "s" words, 5 asses, 3 damns, 1 hell, and 14 uses of "Oh my God," 2 of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "God," "Oh God" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Anita walks in and asks Josie, "Guess who I did it with last night?" After Gus overhears that it was with a coworker, he cautions that he'll have to enforce his intra-office dating policy. Anita then asks, "So what is your policy Augustus? If you're not getting any, nobody can?"
  • Later in a meeting, Anita quickly lifts up her clothed breasts for Roger, the man with whom she had sex. Josie then catches her seductively moving a pencil in her mouth for him and we then see Roger suggestively licking his tongue back at her.
  • Josie reminds Anita of a time when the latter wanted to seduce some guy in the mail room.
  • Josie tells Rob that she thinks it's weird that guys name their cars to which he replies, "Why? Guys name their penises."
  • Some of the girls in the popular trio show varying amounts of cleavage in different outfits they wear throughout the movie (including one that shows a great deal).
  • Gus tells Josie that unless a person at her school kills themselves because he was caught "having sex with the school mascot in a vat of coleslaw" not to call him about her story.
  • We see some students doing some heavy making out in the school hallway.
  • High from eating a cake laced with ganja (pot), Josie races up to the stage in a club and while dancing, runs a feather boa back and forth between her legs like a stripper would do.
  • On a Ferris wheel a student tells Sam and Josie, "If the bucket's rocking, don't come a knocking."
  • Trying to heighten Josie's popularity, Rob (who's acting like a fellow student), says that he and Josie used to date and that she was "very good" (sexually).
  • Anita stops by a class to see Josie, but is wrongfully identified as the guest sex-ed teacher. As such, Sam asks her, "So you're here for the sex talk?" causing her to happily note that he "gets right to the point." Suddenly realizing the mistake, Anita tries to go through with the discussion and says, "You like a guy, you do it with him, sometimes he calls, sometimes he doesn't." After briefly meeting with Josie, she then covers for that and tells Josie that "the burning sensation is normal." She then talks about "losing it with a guy named Junior in the backseat of a van at a concert" and that you wished you listened to your mother who said "why would someone wanna buy the whole friggin' ice cream shop when your hand's on the popsicle for free" (when someone asks about losing one's virginity).
  • Moments later, we then see that the students (male and female) have bananas sitting upright on small pedestals and that they're practicing unrolling condoms on them. As she holds a large banana, Anita says that it's the real thing "in a land called every man's fantasy." As Josie tries to put a condom on her banana, it flings off and hits Sam in the face.
  • After Josie unplugs her assistant's phone headset he says, "She wants me."
  • Josie shows some cleavage in a few outfits that she wears.
  • When Josie reminds Rob that his date is only sixteen, he enthusiastically says that she's a gymnast as well.
  • We see part of a girl's bare butt as she wears a somewhat high-cut bikini bottom to the prom.
  • Rob's prom date, who's only sixteen and admits to having had some champagne, tells him that she's been thinking and has decided that he's the one and "I want you to be my first. As soon as the room stops spinning, let's have sex." Ever the gymnast, she puts her foot around her head while she says this, but despite that and the offer, Rob politely refuses.
  • Anita admits that she never made it to her prom, only to the parking lot.
  • As Guy and Josie dance at the prom, he asks what she's thinking about and she replies Shakespeare related stuff (they're dressed as characters from a play). When she asks what he's thinking about, he replies his sword (a double entendre for the real sword he's wearing as well as a slang name for part of his anatomy).
  • A few miscellaneous characters smoke at a club.
  • None.
  • How some students treat others in school.
  • The fact that Sam, a teacher, allows himself to be attracted to Josie who he thinks is only seventeen.
  • In a flashback, we see that the most popular guy in school has asked Josie to the prom, but that night as he rides up in the limo, he appears with his real date and then throws some eggs at Josie, hitting her.
  • Josie accidently walks into an opened door and smacks her head, nearly knocking herself out.

  • Reviewed March 26, 1999 / Posted April 9, 1999

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