Never Been Kissed
By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sweet, romantic story for teens has some edgy scenes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Josie ultimately learns important lessons about being proud of who you are -- and that being true to yourself and your friends matters more than fitting in. There's also a strong theme about it never being too late to start over/try again. But there's also a lot of dishonesty in the story, and some of the attractions/flirtations between characters who aren't quite what they seem (twentysomething/teenager, and teacher/supposed student) can be uncomfortable.
Positive Role Models
Josie is enthusiastic and hardworking, but she's also insecure and overly concerned about what others think of her -- until she learns some important lessons, that is. There are plenty of high school stereotypes on display -- the "mean girls"/popular kids are stereotypically snobby and vapid, while the smart kids are all nerdy misfits who love math. Josie and her brother, both twentysomethings, pretend to be high school students and both end up "dating" teenagers, while Josie also flirts with one of her teachers, who believes she's a 17-year-old.
Violence & Scariness
Some comic pratfalls, etc. A character throws eggs at another character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and lots of flirting -- some of it between characters who would have problematic age differences if they were all telling the truth ("teenage" Josie and a teacher, Josie and her brother and actual teenagers). In a scene in which high schoolers are meant to learn about sex ed, they're shown putting condoms on bananas (with references to "the real thing"), and anatomical models are shown. A supporting character frequently discusses her sex life (with some lewd gestures/references) and is implied to sleep around. Teen characters talk about sex/losing virginity. Some skimpy/tight outfits on teenage girls.
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A couple of uses of "s--t," plus "oh my God," "ass," "hell," "goddamn," and "damn."
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Products & Purchases
The Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune newspapers are mentioned frequently (Josie works for the Sun-Times); Josie talks about her car by its brand name (Buick).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Josie unknowingly eats a pot brownie and gets very high/silly -- the scene is played for comedy. Teens drink at a party, and a teen girl who's acting goofy during prom admits to having had some champagne. Some background smoking and beer drinking by adults.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Never Been Kissed is an upbeat romantic comedy with underlying themes of self-respect and making good decisions. That said, the characters do deceive each other, and there's a lot of high school stereotyping. There are also quite a few sexual references -- Josie's friend at the office brags about her sex life (but envies Josie's views on love), and a "sex talk" scene involves putting condoms on bananas. In another scene, Josie unknowingly eats some pot brownies and behaves very foolishly; there's some additional teen drinking as well. Flirting/dating between characters of very different ages (undercover twentysomethings and teens), while part of the movie's humor, can feel awkard. Language includes "s--t," "ass," and "damn."
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Never Been Kissed
Based on 10 parent reviews
A film that leaves me uncomfortable!
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What's the Story?
In NEVER BEEN KISSED, Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore), a former high school ugly duckling ("Josie Grossie"), is now a copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Eager to prove herself as a reporter, she goes undercover as a high school student to report on what's going on in the lives of teenagers -- and quickly discovers that she's desperate to use her adult competence to triumph over her hideously humiliating memories of being unpopular and find a way to fit in. But it turns out that the skills it takes to succeed as an adult have nothing to do with the skills it takes to succeed in high school. When Josie does find a place with "The Denominators," the school's brainy (nerdy) crowd, she's happy. But, pressed by her editor to fit in with the cool kids, she relives her old experiences of frustration and embarrassment. Meanwhile, her brother, Rob (David Arquette), has found that everything that made him successful in high school has been of no use since. Wanting to help Josie -- and to return to the place where he was happiest -- he, too, re-enrolls in high school; not only is he immediately dubbed "cool" by the entire student body, but he's also able to make Josie cool, too. Quickly, she gets noticed by the most popular boy in school and is thrilled when he invites her to the prom. But she's also falling in love with her handsome English teacher (Michael Vartan). All of the predictable complications ensue, leading to a finale that's more romantic than persuasive, but fun.
Is It Any Good?
This is a genuinely sweet and romantic story with some perceptive comments about life in high school. Never Been Kisssed also has a heroine who believes in waiting for the right person to kiss, even if that wait takes quite a while, and Barrymore is completely adorable.
Parents should know that there are some sexual references (Josie's friend at the office brags about her sex life but envies Josie's views on love) and uncomfortable "relationships" between teens and twentysomethings who are pretending to be teens (as well as between a teacher and a girl he believes to be a teen). Luckily, nothing goes too far -- for instance, a teen girl offers to have sex with Rob, but while he's clearly tempted, he knows that it would be wrong, and he turns her down. Ultimately, characters make decisions about sexual involvement based on love and maturity.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why high school is such a clique-ish stage of life. Do you think Never Been Kissed is a good representation of high school? Teens: What do think will be different in college and afterward?
Why does Josie want so badly to meet the limited standards of high school popularity? Why did her friends at work envy her? Why didn't she tell the truth earlier?
Is it funny or awkard when Josie and Rob flirt with teens -- or when Josie flirts with her teacher, who thinks she's a teenager? Is it all OK b/c the audience knows the characters' true ages?
How does the movie portray drug use and drinking? Are the consequences of Josie's pot brownie "adventure" realistic?
- In theaters: April 2, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: October 26, 1999
- Cast: David Arquette, Drew Barrymore, John C. Reilly, Michael Vartan
- Director: Raja Gosnell
- Inclusion Information: Bisexual actors
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sex-related material and some drug content
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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