[Screen It]


(2001) (Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst) (PG-13)

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Comedy: After his girlfriend dumps him, a high school student's friends try to help him forget about her, not knowing that he's going to fall for one of their sisters.
Berke (BEN FOSTER) and Allison (MELISSA SAGEMILLER) were high school sweethearts until she realized the romantic sparks between them were gone and then decided to break up with him. He thought their love would last forever, is naturally devastated by this development, and can't accept being dumped, especially when he sees Allison moving on with her life and getting friendly with Striker (SHANE WEST), the handsome new student at their school who also just so happens to be a member of a popular boy band.

Berke's best friends, Felix (COLIN HANKS) and Dennis (SISQ), decide he needs to get over Allison and get on with his life, as do his parents Beverly (SWOOSIE KURTZ) and Frank (ED BEGLEY, JR.) who host a relationship TV talk show. Yet, Berke has decided he's not going to give up so easily and hopes to win Allison back.

He gets his chance when he learns that she and Striker are going to try out for the school's spring play, "A Midsummer Night's Rockin' Eve," a musical adaptation of one of Shakespeare's plays staged by Dr. Desmond Forrest-Oates (MARTIN SHORT), the school's pretentious and occasionally condescending drama teacher. Although he's not much of an actor or singer, Berke tries out for the play, receiving some coaching from Felix's sister, Kelly (KIRSTEN DUNST), an aspiring singer/songwriter who's also hoping to nab a part in the musical.

As Kelly helps Berke, and his friends try anything to get him over Allison, the student tries to juggle the demands of the play, being on the basketball team, and starting to fall for Kelly, all while dealing with Striker who obviously has it out for him.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
It's been said that time heals all wounds, and while those currently embroiled in anything ranging from war to grief to their favorite sports team's losing season may disagree at the time, the old saying is pretty much true. Of course, when the wounded are young, that healing seems to take forever and feels like it might not ever come.

That's because time, in its infinite trickiness, seems to last forever the younger you are, and conversely speeds along at breakneck speed the older you get when there are obviously fewer and fewer days to enjoy. Although there are various degrees of loss, trauma and other emotional and psychological wounds that one can experience as a kid, one of the worst is being dumped from a romantic relationship.

Not only is that person's love suddenly gone, but the insecurity of the age also runs rampant when one is rejected and is doubly worse when everyone at school or in the neighborhood is aware of the split/dumping. The final nail in that particular coffin comes along when the "ex" is seen talking, flirting and then finally making out with some new boyfriend or girlfriend.

The passing of the ensuing seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months usually cures such ills. And the funny thing about time is that many years later one is apt to have long since forgotten the associated pain as well as the name of that love Grinch who ripped your heart from your chest, spat and stomped down upon it, and then left it quivering on the cold, callous ground.

To be fair, it is a traumatic event during those formative years, and considering that it's something that's happened at least once to most every teenager at some point in their lives, it would obviously serve as good source material for some sort of fiction, be it a dramatic or comedic look at such events. Of course, the "I've Been Dumped" story has been told about a gazillion times in novels, TV shows and movies, but that hasn't stopped the filmmakers responsible for the appropriately titled "Get Over It" from trying their hand at it.

While there's obviously a great deal of potential in such a story - especially when done as a comedy -- director Tommy O'Haver ("Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss") and writer R. Lee Fleming Jr. ("She's All That") don't really do much with it in this amiable but otherwise mediocre and redundant film. All of which is too bad since they had the right idea, but unfortunately made some wrong decisions and included too many worthless instances of the sophomoric and trite material often found in such teen-based comedies.

That said, the film starts off in an engaging and lively fashion. With the pivotal dumping occurring within the first minute or so, the lovelorn protagonist - played by Ben Foster ("Liberty Heights") with about as much passion as a sloth on valium - doesn't realize the literal garage band that's now following him down the street, joyfully playing "The Captain and Tennille's" "Love Will Keep Us Together." As they do, an eclectic collection of characters - ranging from the obvious bride and groom, some dancing trash men and yes, the obligatory marching band - join in the impromptu parade.

The scene, of course, is a nightmarish fantasy fueled by Berke's love life being nuked into oblivion, but it sets a fun, immediate tone for the film, leading the viewer to believe that such goofy tomfoolery will likely follow. Unfortunately, and despite it borrowing its outrageous fantasy segment bits from the likes of "Ally McBeal" and many other previous TV shows and movies, the film never manages to live up to its opening, despite repeated, but various different forms of such imagined moments (even going so far as to the use of the "thought bubbles" next to a character's head as occurs in the funnies and comic books).

Other problems also hamper the proceedings. Among them is the seemingly mandatory teen comedy material including the standard excretory moments, the drunken guy puking into the party punch bowl, and the dog that humps everything in sight. None of that sophomoric humor is remotely original, let alone funny.

The bigger problem relates to the protagonist as the character is written and then portrayed. While a high school student who's been dumped will obviously often be depressed and lethargic, that doesn't make for big laughs unless it's handled with finesse and creativity, but neither is present here. As a result, the unimaginatively and barely proactive character doesn't come across as terribly interesting, sympathetic or humorous. Not surprisingly, the film suffers accordingly, meandering from one unfunny and/or lackluster bit to the next without any solid and much needed narrative direction.

Colin Hanks ("Whatever It Takes," "That Thing You Do!") and singer turned actor Sisq (making his debut) don't bring much to their roles as the best friends, but then again, they can't due to their poorly drawn characters. When faced with trying to cheer up the protagonist and/or make him forget his girlfriend - decently but unremarkably played by Melissa Sagemiller ("Black and White") - they take their cue from other teen films and thus take him to a strip club and throw a huge party at his house, neither of which is effective for their goal or entertaining for the viewer.

Reportedly upon the insistence of Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, the filmmakers injected yet another classic tale into their contemporary teen one, apparently hoping to mine the success of "Clueless" and "10 Things I Hate About You" in doing just that before it. This time around, it's Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that's morphed into the sort of high school musical that could only appear in the movies, what with its diverse and mismatched musical styles. While I suppose that's part of what's supposed to be funny about it, little of it really is, although Martin Short ("Innerspace," the "Father of the Bride" films) is occasionally amusing as the demanding blowhard of a high school drama instructor.

With most of those comedic shots missing their marks, one then hopes that the tried and true plot element of Berke falling for his best friend's sister will inject some fun or life into the proceedings. While Kirsten Dunst ("Bring It On," "The Virgin Suicides") seemingly brings more to the role than is there on paper, the chemistry between her and Foster's character is flat, and the eventual romance between them is predictable and incredibly slow to develop. A stereotypical subplot involving Shane West ("Whatever It Takes," "Liberty Heights") as the protagonist's nemesis doesn't help matters as the character is insipidly written and poorly acted.

While the film may find an audience among some less discerning teens, it brings absolutely nothing new to this genre that's progressively growing more tired and banal with each new offering. All I can say to Hollywood about these sorts of films is "Get Over It!" The film rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed March 9, 2001 / Posted March 10, 2001

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