Movie of the Week: Not Another Teen Movie

It  was Shiran’s turn to pick our Movie of the Week this time, and she decided to show me something a little out of my usual stomping grounds. The movie she chose was Not Another Teen Movie, something that I don’t think I’d ever have seen on my own. This is a great example of what I love about this tradition, the fact that it opens both of us up to new movies, and serves as a great bridge between our shared tastes and our unique interests. And as it turns out, Not Another Teen Movie also shares enough with things I already like to still work for me. More after the jump:

I don’t have a ton of experience with teen comedies on my own, and the ones that I have seen (Superbad, Mean Girls) were made after 2001 when this was released. Still, Not Another Teen Movie still works pretty well as a goofy, over-the-top example of the genre; even though I’m not familiar with a lot of the specific references at hand I still recognize the same broad genre strokes that are still used in the genre today. And on the parody scale, it definitely skews closer to the Mel Brooks end of the spectrum (as opposed to Seltzer/Friedberg), in that it creates one unified (if ridiculous) setting and tone that allows it to merge a variety of movie references into one narrative.

Also, unlike many other parody films (again, Seltzer/Friedberg), Not Another Teen Movie does not seem to come from a place of scorn or derision for the tropes and patterns of the genre. It’s willing to emphasize the faults of the genre while not outright dismissing the genre as a whole. It acknowledges things like the Token Black Guy and the idea that any relationship from a teen movie is probably doomed, but it doesn’t go any further than emphasizing the absurdity of it. This short bit, for example, is funny without seeming like mockery:

The cast of the movie is a very eclectic mix too, going from standby actors from the teen movie genre (Molly Ringwald, Paul Gleason), late ‘90s/early Aughts castoffs (Jaime Pressly), reused Freaks and Geeks castmembers (Samm Levine) and soon-to-be major superhero movie stars (Chris Evans), along with several people I’d never seen before and probably never will again (most of the female cast, unfortunately). It’s such a bizarre mashup that makes the movie feel equally ahead of it’s time and incredibly dated, which kind of adds to the entertainment value.

So while Not Another Teen Movie is far from my favorite movie Shiran has shown me, it was still surprisingly enjoyable, and more than anything serves as a reminder of all the classics I still need to watch… ones that hopefully Shiran will show me in the future. Now here’s Shiran’s take on this childhood favorite of hers:

I picked Not Another Teen Movie this week mostly because I’m starting to run out of really good movies that Brendan hasn’t seen, but at least partially because I’ve always felt that this movie is unfairly maligned and I knew Brendan would never see it on his own. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but it’s reliably funny and entertaining. Unlike most other parody movies in this genre, it manages to include a broad range of often very specific references (it combines She’s All That with American Beauty, for crying out loud) without any feeling unnecessarily tacked on just because they’re recognizable. I watched this movie about two dozen times when I before I had actually watched most of the teen movies it’s mocking, and it still works as a solid comedy even when you don’t recognize the specificity of the references. Once my library of teen movies expanded, I appreciated it even more – everything from its soundtrack to its background gags is specifically crafted from real movies. It’s not subtle or particularly innovative, but I find that whenever I revisit it I find more hidden jokes, cameos, or layers of comedy. Rather than simply capitalizing on the success of better films, Not Another Teen Movie feels dedicated to stuffing funny moments into every moment and to being an entertaining comedy even when it stands alone.

It’s my turn again next week, and chances are my pick will skew more in the dramatic (and probably sci-fi) direction. Tune in to find out!

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