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Never Been Kissed

Starring: Drew Barrymore
Director: Raja Gosnell
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1999
Rating: 3 / 5

"It all depends what you're in the mood for." That rather simple quote is probably the best way to describe the Drew Barrymore film Never Been Kissed. It is by no means high cinema, nor is it drop-dead funny like 1998's There's Something About Mary. However, if a feel-good movie is what you are after, then Never Been Kissed definitely fits the bill. Laughter is most assuredly present, even if it does not exist in abundance. In the end, this movie is actually quite similar to its star's career thus far: full of potential it never quite reaches, yet enjoyable nonetheless.

Never Been Kissed follows Josie Geller (Barrymore), a twenty-five year old employee of the Chicago Tribune, whose ambition in life is to one day become a reporter. Cursed by horrible high school memories that she desperately wants to forget, Josie is offered the chance of a lifetime: a feature story. However, the catch is that she must go undercover at the local high school, a prospect which is made all the more frightening when brother Rob (David Arquette) reminds Josie of her long-forgotten experiences as a teenager. Suddenly, this golden opportunity does not seem so wonderful, but Josie is not about to let a few painful memories interfere with her chance at a dream.

Enrolled under her own name (a fact which is somehow overlooked by the admissions office), Josie is quickly reminded of one of the most painful truths of high school: you are either in, or you are out. And just as she was the first time around, Josie finds herself shunned by the "cool" segments of the school, and accepted by the more intellectual ones. Pressed by her editor for a story of substance - it is never made clear what sort of story the newspaper had in mind at the outset - Josie realizes that she is going to have to become "in" if she is to have any hope of making her story a success. Enter Rob once more with a plan to save the day. Since it only takes one "cool" person to bring another one into the group, all Josie needs is to have the once-hip Rob, who would subsequently enroll at the school as well, pull her along into the upper echelon of high school society. As we all know from watching a great many movies of this variety, nothing is ever quite that simple.

Never Been Kissed succeeds with the "cute" factor, a designation explained to me in recent months by a friend of mind. A great many of the jokes in the movie are hit-or-miss, depending upon the viewer's recollection of his high school experiences. However, one cannot help but pull for Josie, a girl who wants so badly to be accepted that she would go through the torture of high school twice. Her school is a place where it is not merely who you are, but those with whom you associate. That being said, Barrymore does display charm to spare, and she is actually relatively believable as a high school student. David Arquette is a riot as the jock of the school, a prime example of someone who rode the wave of fame in high school only to wipe out in the real world. Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan) is especially likeable as the teacher who catches Josie's eye, if somewhat inappropriately. When the lights came on at the end of this film, I had a smile plastered across my face. I may not remember why in a couple months, but I will remember that feeling as I left the theatre. Ah, to be young and free again...

Drew Barrymore..........Josie Geller
Molly Shannon..........Anita
David Arquette..........Rob Geller
Michael Vartan..........Sam Coulson

Certification: Rated PG-13.
Running Time: 107 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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