John Tucker Must Die

Movie Information

Genre: Teen Romance
Director: Betty Thomas
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Arrielle Kebbel
Rated: PG-13

This is a somewhat enjoyable, insipid piece of teenage fluff. All the girls are gorgeous and so are the boys. The weather is always sunny. There’s one parent and she actually understands her daughter. Teachers are nonexistent. The school is so well-endowed with equipment and janitorial services, it probably has a higher operating budget than most Third World countries. No one ever does any homework, or serves food to the homeless, or opens a newspaper or bothers their coiffed little heads about anything going on in the world beyond their hormones. In other words, it’s a total fantasy about irresponsible teenagers and if it weren’t so brainlessly cute, I’d barf.

Kate (Brittany Snow, TV’s Nip/Tuck) is an adorable gal whose sexy mother always changes towns when her worthless boyfriends skip out. Feeling invisible yet again in her new school, Kate is desperate to make friends. The school heartthrob is John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe, TV’s Desperate Housewives), a muscled hunk who also happens to be sweet, suave, rich and the much ballyhooed captain of the basketball team. It turns out Mr. Dreamboat is dating three different girls (from separate cliques so they won’t exchange notes), giving each of them his favorite line, “You’re the only girl for me.” For some reason, each of these otherwise smart young women believes him. Heather (Ashanti, Coach Carter) is the captain of the cheerleading squad, a specialist on showing attitude. Carrie (Arrielle Kebbel, Aquamarine) is the ambitious blonde who hosts the school’s TV shows. Beth (Sophie Bush, TV’s Nip/Tuck) is the vegan activist who brags about her animalistic libido.

When the girls get stuck in detention together, John Tucker’s three now-ex-girlfriends hatch a revenge plot to “kill” him, which includes getting Kate to break his heart. Over the next few weeks, they transform Kate from a nice gal into a hybrid of themselves, coaching her in girlie beguiling techniques such as manipulation, sexual teasing, lies and the power of red lace underwear. Director Betty Thomas (28 Days) manages to elicit a few laughs from the general silliness. When Ashanti feeds John her mother’s estrogen pills to destroy his manliness in front of the basketball team, he performs a hilarious parody of a teenage girl having PMS. Insulting but hilarious. I admit, I giggled, even though I hated myself afterwards.

Truth is, Jesse Metcalfe is such a personable actor, the vengeance the girls wreak on his character loses its malicious fun after a while and you end up rooting for the unfaithful cad. He was, after all, just being his handsome, glorious, testosterone-raging self. As his nice but less glorious younger brother Scott (Penn Badgley (TV’s The Bedford Diaries) points out, “Everyone knows what John Tucker does — but the girls stand in line for him anyway.” Yep, that’s the timeless way it is with girls and cute boys. Pathetic, I admit, giggling at the memories. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

— reviewed by Marcianne Miller

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