Film Discussion

Not Another Teen Movie – Throwback 20

There was a moment in the mid-00s where the parody film went downhill, before the genre dominated the worst 100 films list on IMDB due to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer churning out questionable films such as Disaster Movie, Meet The Spartans and Vampires Suck. It may have been Date Movie that was the catalyst. 

But just before then, there were some films that started to have the term “Movie” in the title, particularly Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie. They managed to avoid the inevitable aforementioned trend of sub-par quality by sticking to the true concept of a parody movie. Not Another Teen Movie manages this, even if it does show a little foreshadowing of the genre’s habit of turning into a reference-fest. 

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Released in the UK in May 2002, Not Another Teen Movie lampooned and created a mash-up of the rising trend of teen movies from the previous few years. The main plot of football star Jake Wyler’s (played by future Captain America Chris Evans) bet to transform rebellious social outcast Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh) is lifted from the plot of She’s All That, itself an adaptation of the play Pygmalion.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Along the way, Jake deals with football issues similar to the film Varsity Blues, and Janey’s brother Mitch and his friends make pacts to lose their virginities a la American Pie, whilst being in love with the popular girl Amanda Becker (Lacey Chabert). Other plots involve Jake’s ex-girlfriend Priscilla (Jamie Pressley) and Jake’s step-sister Catherine (Mia Kirshener – channeling Sarah Michelle Gellar from Cruel Intentions). 

There’s a multitude of smaller characters from other films all blended together, but unlike future films such as Epic Movie or Disaster Movie, they’re all in familiar settings and premises so they slide in perfectly. So when undercover reporter Sadie (Beverly Polcyn) shows up as a tertiary character, it’s natural and enhances the strange world of John Hughes High School (itself a reference to 80s teen movies).

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It’s that nod to an older generation that gives the film a longer shelf-life. Again, the modern day parodies are just cramming in as many movie trailers of the time as possible, but Not Another Teen Movie references Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller, and in one extended scene The Breakfast Club. Paul Gleason even appears as the same character to lampoon his own appearance in that film, and Molly Ringwald turns up in an uncredited role at the end to lampoon the cliched speeches made at the end of several films. 

Credit: Columbia Pictures

It does have a couple of instances of zeitgeist films that it shoehorns in just for the sake of a joke, which is a habit that the aforementioned future films would collapse into. There’s an American Beauty reference that doesn’t really add much to the plot and has some jokes that don’t land. It’s not much, but the seeds of doubt are beginning to be sown here. 

Plus some jokes in the unrated version that was watched for this seem a little too over-the-top. There’s some scatlogical humour that could easily not be added in, including a large physical set-piece joke that was probably kept in because of the work put in to make it. Sam Levine’s Bruce lampoons characters acting in cultures that they aren’t a part of and the character hasn’t aged well. 

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For audiences of a certain age, this is (for the most part) a respectful tribute to a genre and the popular films of the time. A lot of the jokes hit and it plays on quite a few tropes of the time. It also has traits that are victims of its time and don’t stand up as well. But if you are or were a fan of the movies being parodied, then it’s still a recommended watch. 

Not Another Teen Movie was released in the UK on 24th May 2002.

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