“John Carter”

Saw “John Carter” Friday night with the animation club. At IMAX. In 3D. Oh yeah, we went all out. It was quite a joyous experience – nothing like seeing a movie after six hours of drawing on a four-story screen with fellow animators who are gung-ho for fantasy action sci-fi epics.

This movie meant a lot to me in particular because I wanted to see what Andrew Stanton (he of “Toy Story”,
“A Bug’s Life”, “Wall*E” and “Finding Nemo” fame) had to bring to live action. Stanton is my hero for he epitomizes everything that I want to do with my career – animator, screenwriter and director of both animation and live action.  If I can follow in his footsteps, I will be a fortunate woman indeed. 

The movie does not disappoint. If you’ve seen Avatar, “Last of the Mohican’s”, “Tarzan” or “Pocahontas”, then you will enjoy “John Carter”. That’s because A Princess of Mars introduced the first fictional hero. Every action-y sci-fi story owes itself to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s novel’s 1912 roots.

The visual effects are quite good, although there are times when you are lost in the action and it’s a little difficult to tell who is shooting at who, especially in 3D, where stuff tends to blur. I will say this movie does an excellent job of blending CG with live action. Even though you know the four armed Tharks were made in a computer, they interact exceedingly well with their real counterparts. It amazes me how far 3D animation has come even in the past 5 years. The music is epic and the costume designs are fabulous. Taylor Kitsch’s performance as the titular character is so-so, although I attribute that to some of his dialogue, which is a little clunky. However the Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) kicks serious butt. She’s awesome in the book, but is given an added layer by being a regent of science. She also slices and dices through enemy ranks rather well.

The film takes several liberties, however they are all in service to making the story more entertaining and in my opinion, more accessible for today’s audience. And it’s just a great deal of fun to watch.

You can view a cool video that Andrew Stanton did for Ted Talk back in February about the film here.

Photo from scifimafia.com

“Hugo” and the Artistry of Film

Few films enable you to walk out of the theater feeling like you can overcome life’s obstacles while delighting you at the same time. Such is the case with “Hugo” Martin Scorsese’s most recent film. It is, in a word, stunning. As I sat in the theater and the film began to play, my first thought was “this is alright. Not bad. Kind of interesting.” Something happened though as I watched this movie. Before I knew it, I realized I loved this film. It draws you in, and by the time the credits roll, you marvel at the wonder of it all. It is that beautiful.

Hugo tells the story of Hugo Cabret, (Asa Butterworth), a young orphan living within the clock system at the main rail station in France during the early 20th century. His father (Jude Law), a clock maker and curator, died in a horrific fiery accident at a museum, and young Hugo is whisked from his melancholy yet somehow joyful life with his beloved father to living with his drunk uncle among the clocks, and told only to bring what he values most. Those things are the automaton that his father found in the museum, and a notebook of his father’s sketches on how to get it to work. The machine, a little metal man filled with beautiful gears, pulleys and bolts, is able to write, but requires a heart shaped key to come to life. When his uncle disappears, it’s up to Hugo to keep the clocks running and to figure out how to resurrect his only friend. He must also steal food from vendors in the station while trying to avoid the ever watchful eye of the delightfully rigid Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is all too eager to send orphans to the orphanage.

But when Hugo pilfers gears from the local station toy shop one day, he is caught by the toy maker (Ben Kinsley), who takes away not only the gears he stole but the notebook with the drawings created by his father. After meeting the toy shop’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), the two embark on an adventure to locate the notebook, fix the automaton and in so doing, discover that the toy maker is actually famed movie creator George Melies who was presumed dead after WWI and whose films were all destroyed. And the creator of Hugo’s wondrous machine.

Little Hugo, though tenacity and a fighting spirit, ends up with so much more than a notebook and a working metal man by the end of the film. He resurrects George’s soul, as well as helping to unite the Inspector with his beloved Lisette (Emily Mortimer), the flower merchant, and gives Isabelle a purpose, that of writer of tales, including Hugo’s.

Why does Hugo remain hiding in the walls like a little mouse, fixing the clocks without any appreciation from anyone? Why is he so obsessed with the notebook and the automaton? Fixing things is what he does. As he says, he imagines the world to be one big machine. And no machine has spare parts. Which means that he is not a spare part, and has a place in this world. And for that same reason, Isabelle has a place as well. The automaton and the notebook are also the last link he has with his father, and by fixing the machine, he can keep the spirit of his father alive.

The excellent performances delivered by every single person in the cast, the fine cinematography, and the quiet fortitude of the story deliver the type of cinematic experience rarely seen in films today. Butterworth is by far the most expressive young actor I have ever witnessed on screen. The look in his bright blue eyes speaks more powerfully than a dozen pages of script, ripping out your soul with his absolute earnestness. The artistry of film is presented as a way to live your life adventurously, to encourage and impact people, to inspire them to dream even when all seems lost. In this age of economic disaster, war, famine and plague, it is uplifting to know that dreams can come true, even if only in the movies.

As an artist, the film ignited something deep inside – the desire to create, to uplift, to encourage people through storytelling. I sat in the darken theater, thinking “this is what I do. I make movies. I can make something as beautiful and wondrous as Melies. I can impact people the way he did.” It creates the desire to aspire to make something greater than yourself, through collaborating with other people, to put on a show. 

Scorsese, he of “Shutter Island,” “Goodfellas,” “Taxi Driver,” and a host of other classic films, proves once again why is one of the leading artists of the medium, (and delivers a good cameo as the Photographer).  In an interview with The Daily Show, he expressed to Jon Stewart that he realized he had not made any films his young daughter could watch, and set out to make something that she too could enjoy.

And we are all the better for it.

“Arthur Christmas” delights and stumbles into the collective Christmas tradition

     Christmas brings a myriad of traditions, including the annual deluge of holiday films. There are three types of Christmas cheer movies. The first are those permanently burned in America’s collective conscious like “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The second tier is at least watchable, like “Ernest Saves Christmas.” The third category is reserved for yuletide kindling –films where Santa is saved, Santa is missing, a holiday romance is almost dashed, and other such drivel.

     “Arthur Christmas,” belongs in category two, whimsical enough to make children glad and entertaining enough to not make parents cringe. The Sony/Columbia/Aardman collaboration answers every child’s question about Santa Claus – how on Earth can one man deliver presents to over two billion children in a single night? The answer is that he can’t – by himself. The North Pole is less holly jolly and more expert precision. Santa, (voiced by Jim Broadbent), is a figure head in an operation led by his techno wizard son, Steve (Hugh Laurie) and an elite team of thousands of elves who seem plucked out of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Santa and the first team of elves fly faster than the speed of light in an Enterprise-like red aircraft capable of cloaking itself lest anyone mistake them for UFOs. Hundreds of elves repel from the ship and it is they who do Santa’s real work – delivering presents to nice children. Meanwhile Steve and his team operate from the North Pole’s NASA-like mission control center overseeing every part of the operation. The opening scene is the best part of the film, brilliantly staged and animated with a healthy dose of slow motion action.

     Trouble, for both the stars and the plot, starts when Santa’s younger and more Christmas spirit aware son, Arthur (James McAvoy), discovers that one toy was left behind. And no child gets left behind on Christmas on Arthur’s watch. This starts a chain reaction involving Arthur, Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), and Bryony (Ashley Jensen), the wrapping expert elf who found the gift, racing through the night on the original sleigh to complete the mission.

     This is where the film becomes unhinged. Like most live action and animated films, the main issues with “Arthur Christmas” are due to story problems, not the visuals. Four problems prevent it from being truly exceptional. The less offensive of the group, weird jokes, and stiff facial expressions, are forgivable, in part because Grandsanta is so endearing that you (almost) forgive him for the politically incorrect flubs that tumble out of his mouth like mashed fruitcake. The stiff facial expressions are due to the fact that 3D people are still difficult to animate. Although technology has vastly improved over the past 20 years, even films made by Pixar occasionally fall flat in the face department. Everything ends up looking plastic, which helps explain why there are three “Toy Story” films.

     What are not forgivable are the excessive uses of dialogue that grind the movie to a halt and the introduction of outside antagonists nearly halfway into the film. Several times throughout the movie Santa, Steve, Arthur and Grandsanta begin to pontificate about whether it is necessary to worry about delivering one gift to one child – and these conversations are long. We’re talking now’s a time to get more popcorn long. One could (and should have) easily cut the arguments in half.
     The other damaging aspect is that the film introduces characters from the UN who mistake Arthur and Grandsanta for UFOs due to their lack of flying expertise. This would be an excellent set of scenes if they were introduced 30 minutes earlier. However, due to their late arrival in the film, they feel almost tacked on, as if someone in the final part of the production asked “Hey wouldn’t anyone notice two dudes, an elf and reindeer flying over Idaho?”

     Animation-wise, the film is nearly solid. Story-wise, it needs a little work, but the emotion is displayed expertly on screen. And in a field where lousy Christmas tales and trite sentimentalism are usually the norm, especially for family movies, “Arthur Christmas” has the distinction of rising above the holiday morass.

The Dollar Theater Review: Bedtimes Stories not a snoozefest

Adam Sandler is quickly becoming a more-family friendly comedian in the Disney flick Bedtime Stories. The premise is revealed succinctly within the first ten seconds of the trailer but it is a surprisingly heartwarming and cute tale with an actual plot.

Sandler plays Skeeter, a maintenance man living in the hotel that a rich tycoon bought from his debt-ridden father 20 years ago. Said tycoon promised Skeeter’s dad that when the lad was old enough, he would let him run the hotel. As can be expected in these types of movies however, that didn’t happen, but Skeeter works harder than anyone else there to repair everything and keep everyone happy.

The story kicks into high gear when Skeeter’s sister Wendy (Courteney Cox, who I am beginning to love in every single role she appears in) the principal of an elementary school about to get bulldozed, has to go to Arizona for a job interview. She leaves her two kids in the care of her brother at night, and her teacher friend Jill by day. Skeeter and Jill don’t get along at all, which means they’ll be madly in love by the end of the movie. But at least their banter is funny.

The movie turns into the movie preview at this point. Every time the kids and Skeeter tell bedtime stories, parts of the stories come true. Skeeter tries to use this to his advantage in order to win favor in the eyes of the tycoon – with mixed results. Hilarious shenanigans involved gumballs, dwarves, and a high speed motorcycle chase ensue.

In the end Skeeter is the hero, gets the girl, and in a lovely heartfelt B story saves the elementary school, which tycoon was going to tear down for the site of the new hotel.

A predictable film in some parts but kids will love it and it’s more enjoyable for grown-ups than they would expect.

And Lucy Lawless stares as a mean-hearted witch of a hotel clerk named Aspen. Her reactions to Sandler are worth the price of admission alone.

According to the ratings board, rated PG for mild language and rude humor but honestly I can’t recall what language they’re talking about. And the humor involves boogers, horse farts and, frankly, Adam Sandler. Typical kiddie stuff.

The Dollar Theater Review: Bolt strikes

Finally saw Bolt with my buddy Anne tonight. Not a bad film. The kids in the audience (and there were A LOT of them) really enjoyed it. I even heard one start to cry when they thought that Penny was in mortal danger.

The movie goes like this: a dog, Bolt, and his “person” Penny fight against the nefarious Green Eyed Man, a slim super villain in Armani suits who has captured Penny’s father. But before he was captured, Penny’s dear old dad genetically modified Bolt with super speed, super strength, heat vision, laser shooting eyes and a super bark that can decimate heavy artillery. Together he and Penny are an unstoppable duo of crime-fighting might.

Problem is, Bolt has no idea that none of it is real. Unbeknownst to him he is the Buzz Lightyear of canines, a dog starring in a TV program beloved by millions. He spends his weekend in a trailer on the set, and everyone he sees is in on the act. Penny wants to take him home so he can be a real dog, but the director wants Bolt to think that he’s always in peril so he can get the best reactions possible.

It’s a fine premise but the movie unravels once the set-up is established. Through a mishap Bolt escapes from his trailer and ends up shipped to NYC. He escapes, and together with a declawed cat named Mittens and a sidekick-wannabe hamster named Rhino, they go on an Incredible Journey-esque adventure back to LA in order to save Penny, who in the season finale was kidnapped by the Green Eyed Man.

There are plenty of opportunities for moral tales, warm fuzzies, and hamster ball silliness, but the movie lags in some places and the dialogue is too on the nose in others. And there’s not much of a B plot – Penny gets a replacement Bolt so that filming can continue but the dog only functions for two key scenes.

I’ve seen Wall*E and Kung Fu Panda, and I know now why Wall*E got the Oscar. But the kids will like it and the animation’s great.

Rated PG for live action-y like spy violence, one explosion, a firey set and a man getting doused in pepper spray (don’t worry mom and dad, it’s one of the funniest scenes in the movie.)

Who’s Watching the Watchmen?

I was!

I saw the movie tonight after all with three of my friends.
Surprisingly enough the theater was not packed – we bought our tickets an hour early, walked right in without waiting in any sort of line at all and found good seats. No one sat in front of us. Few people behind us. Kind of magical. I was shocked. Everyone was clammering to get into IMAX leaving the rest of the screens only half-full.

For those who are wondering – the comic is better. But Zack Snyder deserves recognition for having the guts to turn the work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons into a film. And it’s not a bad film. None of my compadres read the comic – one had never heard of it until today – and all of them enjoyed the film.

I thought it was alright. Most of the GN is in there – in fact some of the most iconic scenes of the comic appear on screen, which was awesome. There were a few omissions – the crazy pirate story was cut out and the giant squiddy monster thing was no where to be found, but I don’t think most fanboys and girls will complain.

No, the problem with the movie was the pacing. You literally feel like you’ve been sitting for nearly three hours. And there were parts of the plot where if I had not read the GN I would have been confused as to what was actually going on. Somehow the writers and director got EVERYONE’S story and backstory and the myriad of plot twists in there – sometimes it worked out, other times you scratch your head for a few minutes as you jump back and forth in time and between plotlines.

However they get Rorschach RIGHT. No character in the GN compares to him. He never loses his convictions or integrity, not once. You have to wonder what society would be like if more people behaved like him. Maybe we’d all be sociopaths, but we would be easy to decipher sociopaths.

“I’m not locked in with you – you’re locked in with me!”

Watchmen: Will it be wicked or just sort of stink?

I’ve been looking forward to this movie since I saw the trailer during The Dark Knight last summer. I read Watchmen several years ago and was greatly impressed by the depth and complexity of the subject matter. It’s not my favorite comic (Midnight Nation and Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 are tied for that grand spot in my heart), but it’s certainly up there with great literature.

Based on the reviews of Newsarama, NPR and The New York Times the critics are in consensus that the only people who will truly enjoy the film will be fanboys and girls. As I am a fangirl, that suits me just fine. However, I’m not a big fan of violence for violence sake – I passed up on watching Sin City, but I did films like Gladiator, Fight Club and 300. People may ask what the difference is between those movies with violence and a movie like Watchmen, which I hear is uber-violent. My answer is that if the violence serves the plot and is not stomach churning and excessive to the point of nausea then I can take it. Otherwise I’ll walk out of the theater – and I’ve done that too.

My friends are going this weekend to see it on IMAX – sadly I will not be able to join them – DANG! So if any of you, my readers, go see it this weekend, please let me know what you think. I’d appreciate too if you would mention if you’ve read the GN or not, so that I can get a sense if this is a movie that all audiences would like, or only those of the comic reader persuasion.

This Week in Movie Awesome

This week I had the pleasure of seeing TWO films at the dollar cinema, the only way to watch a movie as far as I’m concerned, especially blockbuster summer spectacles that looked iffy in the previews. If you can get passed the sticky floors and not so great projector quality, you’ll have a mighty fine time.

First film: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I saw Indiana Jones KOTCS on Tuesday, officially making me one of the last humans in America to see the most current enstallment of the renergized franchise. And…well, it’s no Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not by a looonnnggg shot. That did not diminish my enjoyment of the movie, but like Matt Fraction stated in his June Word Balloon interview, the more time passes after you watch this film, the less you like it.

And I totally get why.

See if you’re like me – a child of the 80s – then you’ve no doubt seen Raiders a minimum of 15 times. MINIMUM. When we lived in California it came on KCAL 9 no less than once every 3 months, and I always caught it at the exact same spot (when Indy is in the desert, digging for the awesome built to scale city map). I remember watching the spirits ascend from the ark and liquify people behind the safety of the living room couch (the best place to watch any and all things scary). The music from the film is permanently embedded in my brain, right next to my collection of cartoon theme songs.

And yet, we are drawn to this film like a moth to a flame. Why? Because Indy is an icon, right up there with Bond, hotdogs and every other cliched American thing we can think of.

But friends, this is no Star Wars or Raiders. It’s not even Temple of Doom, which is saying a lot, considering how exceedingly annoying the screaming woman was (really, is there anyone else who was sad that she didn’t burn up in molten lava? I know I was.)

This, my friends, was an Indy movie that morphed into a weird hybrid of poor dialog, bland characterization, and National Treasure rip-off discovery with a bit of X-Files conspiracy thrown in for good measure. A funny film, but in a “Wow this is pretty ludicrous,” sort of way, not unlike the poor fodder thrown to the robots of MST3K.

The sad thing is that there was absolutely no reason for it to be this bad. Harrison Ford, Shia LeBoef and Cate Blanchett are fine actors stuck in a badly written film with CGI monkeys. CGI monkeys. Really? Is that even necessary? And why is it that Cate’s Russian spy sounded like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle? I kept waiting for her to bust out with “Must capture moose and squirrel!”

Team Lucas/Spielberg didn’t fare so well with this one. Which by no means will influence whether I see any more of their movies. Because I will. Because that’s how myself and every other person in the 18-49 demographic roll. Darn you, Star Wars and Raiders, we shall never be free from your death grip of awesome.

Film two: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum was last night’s film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which I also had near zero expectations of and was greatly impressed by the story as well as the creatures. Seriously, Guillermo del Toro makes Jim Henson’s creature shop look like child’s play.

Del Toro and Mike Mignola are cut from the same cloth. And you can definitely see how the director’s work in Pan’s Labyrinth plays out in this film.

The best character by far was the Angel of Death, a beautifully creepy creation. I would like nothing better than to meet Guillermo and see the innerworkings of his mind when he creatues such fantastic monsters. Never have I seen an angel look like this.

And not just the angel, but all of the creatures were fantastic, from the lovely yet strange Elves to the reinvisioning of Tooth Fairies as sadistic little buggers.

The best part of all of these creations is that they are not only scary, but beautiful in an odd way. They are more than monsters, each with their own motivations and feelings for why they do what they do, not unlike Frankenstein’s monster.

The supporting cast of creepies nearly overshadow everyone else, but all of them pull their weight nicely, particularly Ron Perlman as the cigar chomping Hellboy and Abe Sapien, who is given a little romance this time around.

The flaw of the film though is that the theme is not given enough screen time.
Prince Neuda makes an interesting argument to Hellboy, why fight against your own for those who will hate you when you can join those who will view you as a god? It’s a rather compelling argument, given Hellboy’s appearance (he’s not named Hellboy for nothing you know), the fact that his best friend is a fish hybrid and his girl is pyrokentic which a propensity for blowing up buildings. It’s also a theme that
deserved more screen time, as it is mentioned only briefly after the Elemental fight scene and then becomes no more than an afterthought. Considering that this was truly the heart of the film, I am surprised that Del Toro did not give it the consideration it deserved.

Summer Movie Mayhem

Unless you’ve been living under a rock under the ocean deep in a crater, you’ve by now heard that Iron Man is SUPREMELY AWESOME IN EVERY WAY. I saw the film on opening day and I must say – WOW. I never read the comic, in fact, had never heard of it until my best friend bought me “The Marvel Encyclopedia” (thanks Annie!) And honestly, it sounded like a lame Batman rip-off: rich dude with a mega corporation becomes super hero. Yawn.

But my friends, it is SO MUCH more. Not only are the special effects excellent, but seriously, Robert Downey, Jr. IS Tony Stark. The man practically lived the character’s life in real time. Not to mention the best part of the whole movie: the script. Screenwriters rejoice, you can create a major blockbuster tent pole movie with heart and soul.

And speaking of soul, saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on Sunday. GO SEE THIS MOVIE. If you are a fan of action/adventure/fantasy/Christian symbolism/family entertainment/hot guys named Caspian this is the film for you my friend.

Few sequels live up to the hype and this one was definitely worth the $5.50 matinee price. Once again, I commend the script — the children especially show a great range of depth and emotion.

Will they follow Aslan or will they fight their battles themselves? Will they save Narnia or die trying? Will Susan insist on playing the role of Ice Queen to Prince Caspian? You have to see it to find out!

Next up: Kung Fu Panda. Yes! Jack Black can do no wrong.

Sydney White: Revamped for the MySpace Generation

Due to an unforeseen rainstorm preventing a trip to the zoo “Look Jahkwona, wet, miserable animals! Fun!” my little sister and I hoofed it to the local megaplex where we were greeted by a paucity of movies aimed at anyone below the age of 19. None were suitable for the kid, except for one “Sydney White.”

Here’s what I knew about this movie:

1. It starred Amanda Bynes (reigning queen of perky tween movies)
2. It was a retelling of Snow White in college (translation: Disney-esque)
3. It starred Amanda Bynes

Miss Bynes is the anti-Lindsay, goofy and beloved by tween and teen girls everywhere.
In other words, safe for a 9-year-old.

So off we went, and while they didn’t break the mold with his one, it got the job done.

Basically story goes like this – cute and lovable Sydney White (Bynes) lost her mom at age 9 and was raised by cute and lovable dad Paul (Johnathan Scheinder) on a construction site. So we’re led to believe that even though she’s got Oxyclean skin and can apply make-up better than most supermodels, she knows more about a Phillips head screwdriver than the perfect prom dress.

OK, suspension of disbelief–on.

But Syndey longs to follow in the footsteps of her dearly deceased mommy, and decides the best way to do so is to join mom’s sorority, Kappa Phi Nu, upon entering her freshman year of college.
So off she goes to Southern Atlantic University, but trouble is a brewin’!

Enter Rachel Witchburn (aka Sara Paxton aka Evil Queen) stereotypical blond queen bee we’ve already seen in every other teen movie made in the past decade (“Mean Girls” anyone?) Ms. Witch is president of both the sorority house AND student council (natch). And wouldn’t you know it, Rachel’s goal is to be the fairest in the land – via a “Hot or Not” list posted on the school’s MySpace page, the magic mirror updated for the 21st century blogging generation. She also has her peepers set on turning the Vortex, a sadder than dirt student residence house and home of the seven dorks, into her own private campus complex with the help of her parents money and funds from the family of her ex, Tyler Prince (aka Matt Long, and if the names aren’t enough to convince you what role he is to play, I can’t help you.) Prince could care less about his old flame, for even though he is the Frat Boy King, he has a heart of gold.

But enter Sydney! Because of legacy Rachel has to let her rush with the sea of blond cookie cutter fembots. She gives poor Sydney hell but the girl still catches the eye of the Prince, befriends a Dallas-cheerleader-like sidekick girl named Dinky and meets the first of the dorks (the dwarfs of the story), Lenny (Jack Carpenter in a role that quiet frankly is suited for a better movie).

However Rachel’s bile and insecurity pushes her to use various loopholes to banish Sydney from the sisterhood and humiliate her in front of everyone at the rush dance. Poor Syd is left with no place to go, but look! The dorks have emerged and offer her a place to rest her wary head! And all of them are straight out of the 1937 classic with one-dimensional updates. There’s Terrence (Doc, aka Jeremy Howard) a dude who’s been in college 6 years past his graduation date and doing weird experiments with mice; Gurkin (Grumpy aka Danny Strong) an angry conspiracy theorist blogger; Embele (Sleepy aka Donte Bonner) a Nigerian who never adjusted to the time zone difference; Spanky (Happy aka Samm Levine) a horny ladies man-wannabe with zero luck with the opposite sex; Jeremy (Bashful aka Adam Hendershott) a who speaks through the hand puppet of petshop.com and George (Dopey aka Arnie Pantoja) a Tiger Scout who can’t tie knots and earn his last merit badge. And of course, Lenny, (aka Sneezy) who is actually more like Doc, for he leads this pack of motley geeks who have found solace in the deathtrap of a dorm they call home.

Sydney, firecracker that she is, decides to help her new friends by getting them better housing, and the only way to do that is to get them to run against Rachel in the student council elections.
They decide Terrence should run for prez (why? who knows!) and they campaign in earnest. But stuff happens, mainly Terrence getting disqualified for already graduating, leading them to pick Sydney to run, which should have been there first clue anyway. Sydney obviously (because it’s her show, isn’t it?) wins over the hearts and minds of the people by reaching out to everyone not in the Greek System. Which is, in her own words, 80 percent of the student body.

This propels her to the No. 1 slot on the “Hot or Not” list, and the Evil Queen in a last ditch effort to destroy the fair princess, enlists the help of a techno-goth to send a computer virus (the poison apple) to Sydney’s computer, destroying her term paper the night before the big stu. co. debate. Sydney pulls an all-nighter, and the debate nearly goes on without her, but lo! Prince Charming awakens her with a kiss inside the study hall, they rush to the debate where Sydney gives a lame “I’m a dork, we’re all dorks!” speech that unifies the masses and destroys the Queen.

In the end the Vortex is saved, Sydney gets the Prince, Lenny gets Dinky, and the Queen is kicked out of the sorority. The End. It’s all escapist-fluff, but the demographic it caters to voiced their pleasure at seeing their girl win. And there are winning scenes that come out of left-field, such as the Evil Queen paying the techno-goth in hotpockets, the dorks re-enacting fight scenes from “Gladiator” and even an homage to the “Hi-ho off to work we go” sequence of the original, with the seven dorks trapping through campus with picket signs instead of pick axes.

Mainly the problem lies not in the acting but the writing. In the hands of a better scribe, the movie could have been in the upper-eschelons of teen comedies. But for all its faults, it ain’t half bad.