A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Geeky Ryan (Shane West) has a crush on popular girl Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), much to the dismay of his less-flashy friend Maggie (Marla Sokoloff). Meanwhile, school football stud Chris (James Franco) has his eyes set on Maggie. Ryan and Chris team up to help each other get their respective girls.
Is it any good?
While escapism can be fun, this is simply an assembly of cinematic clichés. From It's A Wonderful Life, there's the scene of the kids at the prom falling into a pool as the gym floor retracts. From There's Something About Mary, there's explicit bathroom humor. And from Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and She's All That, there's the literary adaptation angle. But what those movies did with Emma, The Taming of the Shrew, and Pygmalion was far more successful. This one is just a rip off.
WHATEVER IT TAKES follows the cinematic formula of casting unusually good-looking and savvy characters as losers. So when Ryan overlooks girl next door Maggie for Ashley, you'll spot the first case of Hollywood illogic at work. Far more grating is the way the women in this movie are so easily seduced; Maggie's blindness to Chris's crude egotism strains belief, and Ashley's desperate and self-destructive desire for Ryan is not just implausible, it's offensive. The more interesting characters are those that get the least screen time. Ryan's pack of oddball buddies provide a few nifty comic turns, and two thirteen-year-old girls laughed at SNL alum Julia Sweeney's antics as the school nurse (also Ryan's mom). But basically this is the usual teen flick routine: kids party in fabulous homes, dress impeccably, and partake in orgiastic sex (offscreen).