A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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."
- Parents say
- Kids say
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
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sex-related material and some drug content
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