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Colin Hanks, Jack Black, Catherine O'Hara, Leslie Mann, Schuyler Fisk

Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Written by: Mike White
Produced by: Scott Aversano, David Gale, Adam Schroeder, Herb Gains, Van Toffler, Scott Rudin
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

US: 11/01/02 UK: 08/11/02

A smart high school student with his heart set on going to Stanford is horrified when his guidance counselor accidentally sends the wrong transcript with his college application. He spends the rest of the film trying to prove that he's actually a good student with a terrific grade point average.
US reviews make this sound like a lemon - though the highly droll Jack Black is usually worth the price of admission! Not so sure about the ability of Hanks junior to headline a major flick.

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Colin Hanks gets the girls going


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This odd hybrid wants to be both a wacky teen comedy and a poignant coming-of-age drama, and while it never quite bridges the gap between the two, it's still consistently entertaining. In suburban, coastal L.A., Shaun (Hanks) is the nice-guy star student. He gets straight A's, has a caring environmentalist girlfriend (Fisk), two goodhearted surfer dudes (Howard and Knoll) for best buddies, and is sure he'll get accepted to Stanford for next year. Then there's his family: drunken mother (O'Hara), drugged-out brother (Black), workaholic father (Lithgow), bimbo stepmom (Mann). If anything is going to wreck his Stanford application--his one chance to get out of Orange County--they'll be it.

There are moments of inspired comedy throughout the film, and these keep us going during the lame bits in between--sequences that simply aren't funny or clever ... or anything. There's a general lack of subtlety--the filmmakers try too hard to be zany or meaningful and rarely get either right. But the cast grab hold of every little morsel and work it perfectly. Hanks and Fisk are very good--charming and edgy and more than a little like their famous parents (Tom Hanks and Sissy Spacek). Black is a bit too obnoxious--intentionally so--but he still creates a memorable character. Meanwhile, veterans O'Hara and Lithgow are of course terrific in their larger roles, while others shine in scene-stealing cameos. And while it's definitely enjoyable on several layers, in the end the film is also far too corny for its own good. Not to mention too sweet and touching for a film that's trying so hard to be hip and cool.



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