Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Movie moguls are such odd ducks. Faced with the October release of a film based on "How I Created My Perfect Prom Date", do they invest a little extra time and money in the screenplay or in a promotional campaign that fits the product? No. They ask the star to lose ten pounds. She complains about it to the tabloids which duly record her bulimic regime, as well as her immediate weight gain after the film is in the can. Left to their own devices, Melissa Joan Hart and her mother decide to accept offers for pictorial spreads in "Maxim" and "Bikini" magazines. Even though nothing of any consequence is revealed, "Archie Comics", which licenses Hart's weekly show "Sabrina The Teenage Witch", demands an apology from the 23-year-old star, who has been in one small screen high school or another for over eight years. The apology is still pending.
"Maxim" and "Bikini" readers stayed away from the re-titled "Drive Me Crazy" in droves and Hart, who has played children for way too long, is at a tricky stage in her career. If she keeps playing ball with the moguls, they will cut her professional throat with a dull saw. She's not yet bankable enough to make her own flicks and if she wants to try the indie route, she may need to consider major image revision first, and I don't mean posing for a Playboy centerfold. A recent Saturday night screening of Hart's DOA flick at Stonestown in San Francisco drew only a dozen other hardy souls. Despite its title, "Drive Me Crazy" is not a zany teen comedy in the tradition of "Ten Things I Hate About You" or "Never Been Kissed". It's more of a dramatic reflection on how the boy and girl next door, who used to be best friends as kids, allowed themselves to be driven away from each other as soon as they reached adolescence.
Adrian Grenier as the boy can barely act at all and I'll bet no one asked him to lose ten pounds, ditto yucky Stephen Collins as Hart's estranged father. All of the kids in high school appear to be between 28 and 31 and they look tired. A chunk of change was spent on the prom sequence at which Brian Setzer & Britney Spears can be heard but not seen and a girl band called "The Electrocutes" is front and center. The film manages to critique cliques, alcohol abuse and teen treachery without ever cutting very deeply and all the characters wind up where you expect them to land! Sad, because Hart has potential and Keri Lynn Pratt does very well in a small, but vivid role as a girl torn between what she thinks she wants & what she knows she needs. When you see the fresh approaches to fresh material that characterize so many indies, you just know that 20th Century Fox has far more serious problems to solve than putting grownups on diets in order to rewind their biological time clocks.
© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 10/13/99
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