Sunday, 1 March 2009

Never Been Kissed - DVD Review

Never Been Kissed is an engaging romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore as young Copy Editor and wannabe Journalist Josie Geller. When Josie’s big break comes and she gets a chance to prove that she can write copy as well as edit it, there’s just one small catch – she has to go undercover as a High School student, reliving the nightmare she had in school the first time round… (At school she was a geek who the other kids called, "Josie Grossie"). That nickname was thought up by her brother Robert (he never knew it would catch on), who was always popular at school. When the going gets tough for Josie in her undercover assignment, it’s Robert (played by David Arquette) who comes to the rescue – despite thinking up that nickname he is actually a nice brother. What Josie didn’t count on was that being a mature, confident woman doesn’t actually help her cope in the school environment. Neither does she expect to fall for one of the students. Least of all, she doesn’t know that teachers can be so darn attractive…

Also she finds out that kids are basically the same as they were when she’d been at school almost a decade earlier – which is not a good thing… especially as she still fits in more with the geeks than with the cool kids, where the action – and the story – is… On top of all this is the fact that Josie has never been kissed - as in, really kissed in a way that "everything around becomes hazy and the only thing in focus is you and this person and you realize that that person is the only person that you're supposed to kiss for the rest of your life, and for one moment you get this amazing gift and you want to laugh and you want to cry because you feel so lucky that you found it and so scared that that it will go away all at the same time. "

There are many reasons to like this film – it’s very funny and is consistently so. There are many laugh-out-loud moments in this film, and some are absolutely priceless. It's one of those movies that is actually funnier second time round - partly for the things you remember, and partly for those that you don't. The supporting cast do very well, without threatening to take the spotlight off the Drew and David, who are both excellent. Jessica Alba has one of her early film roles here, which will be of interest to some (though she is hardly recognisable as the Dark Angel we now all know and love). There are great performances from John Reilly as the over-stressed Editor of the paper Josie works for and from Molly Shannon as the office flirt. Sean Whalen is hilarious as Josie’s assistant. The comic timing is great and the script is consistently funny and inventive. Slapstick is used sparingly, but is effective when it is used. Michael Vartan on the other hand gives an effectively understated role as the teacher who Josie develops a romantic interest in.

Whilst this is at heart a romantic comedy, but wrapped up in its fluffiness Never Been Kissed does actually deal quite effectively with a number of serious issues – such as bullying, self-identity, friendship / career, and second chances. These don’t get in the way of the humour but do give it an extra layer that romantic comedies often lack. It has to be said that I know someone who was bullied at school who just can’t watch this – though I also had a very tough time at school and absolutely love this movie. Some scenes are decidedly uncomfortable to watch though, so if you find anything that reminds you of upsetting childhood experiences deeply distressing then I’d advise giving this one a miss.

On the other hand, this film is mainly intended to make you laugh, with the issues dealt with of secondary importance. Because it does this very, very well, in addition to having some scenes of genuine emotion (the scene at the end where she’s on the baseball pitch waiting always gets to me… The start of the scene shows her on the pitcher’s mound of the baseball pitch in front of a huge crowd – the rest of the movie shows you how she gets there.) Perhaps I’m biased because I like romantic comedies in general and Drew Barrymore in particular, but I can’t recommend this film enough – cautions above notwithstanding. Definitely 5 stars.

Other Information

The DVD release (at least the one I have) has no special features of note, just the original theatrical trailer. For some this lack of extras might be a problem, but not for me.

The only supported language is English, with subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Rating: 12 (UK) PG-13 (US) for sex-related material and some drug content. (Very little here really.)

Year of release: 1999

Director: Raja Gosnell


Rob Geller: All you need is for one person to think you're cool, and you're in. Everyone else will be scared to question it.


Merkin: I'm just a little tense. This whole office is not Feng Shui. All the desks are facing evil.


Josie Geller: That'll teach me to wear white jeans after labor day.

Gibby Zerefski: I don't think you're supposed to wear white jeans after 1983.


Aldys: [talking about hopes and dreams] ... and I want to go to NorthWestern!

Josie Geller: Oh my Gosh! I went there!

Aldys: For what?

Josie Geller: ...To go to the bathroom once. They have really nice facilities.



Related Links
Drew Barrymore also starred in Fifty First Dates with Adam Sandler.

John O’Reilly was also in Chicago

Molly Shannon was also in Good Boy

See Also

Top Ten Romantic Comedies

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