Shallow comedy about treating girls badly is a waste of time
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jerk Theory is a high school comedy about a guy who decides to treat girls badly to get them to like him. It features mild innuendo, discussions about sex and how soon to have it, some crass language ("anal volcano," "rectal rocket," "heinous anus"), some kissing and making out, and a few scenes with high schoolers at parties with red Solo cups. The main character has a change of heart about his misogynistic moves, but the plot mostly focuses on a guy's efforts to have sex with other girls, and even the one girl he really likes, by being a jerk. Best for teens, but not great for anyone.
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What's the Story?
Adam (Josh Henderson) was hurt when his girlfriend dumped him, so he bitterly decides that women will like him better if he's a jerk. Trouble is, it mostly works. When Adam gets bored with every girl chasing him down, he finally meets a girl he really likes in Molly (Jenna Dewan). But can he stop being a jerk in time to convince her he's not the guy she's heard all about?
Is It Any Good?
JERK THEORY doesn't have an easy premise to get behind: A guy who's been burned by a girl decides to treat all girls badly, convinced they'll like him more. They do, but they're not the girls he has any interest in. Set in a Christian school, the film mostly plays on expected stereotypes about rowdy, repressed teen boys (and their adult teachers) and then plays into even more stereotypes about the sort of girl that will change this guy's heart, a caring sweetheart who is smart enough to make him wait for sex. Unfortunately, that change of heart still doesn't give enough nuance to make this a good movie for teenagers, because it trades more on those surface reflections than digging into anything true about teenage relationships.
Teenagers looking for fun comedies that reflect their lives have better options out there. Most parents will not find this a comforting look at teen relationships or attitudes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Jerk Theory's misogyny. Are the women in the movie real people? Are the men?
Is there any merit to the idea that people will like you better if you are unkind to them? If so, how does that work?
Is it believable that characters like this could change for the better? Why, or why not? Does this feel like an accurate high school movie to you?
- In theaters: April 30, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: June 19, 2012
- Cast: Jenna Dewan, Tom Arnold, Josh Henderson
- Director: Scott S. Anderson
- Studio: ARC Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: February 26, 2022
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