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Piper Perabo, Jane McGregor, Michael McKean, Alexandra Adi, Trent Ford

Directed by: Melanie Mayron
Written by: Lamar Damon, Robert Lee King, Alan Ball, Jim Herzfeld, Paul Guay, Rachelle Romberg, Stephen Mazur
Produced by: Beau Flynn, Matthais Emcke, Jonathan King
Distributor: Premiere Marketing and Distribution

US: 08/11/02 UK: 18/10/02

A French foreign exchange student in a small Texas town's high school upsets the balance by trying to usurp the position of the most popular girl. Much high jinks ensue a la: every High School movie you eve saw!

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"You are, 'ow you say... an American pop tart, non?"

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In the wacky vein of Bring it On or Drop Dead Gorgeous, this colourful high school comedy centres on the ingrown lifestyle of suburban Texas. Like those other films, it's funny, sassy and enjoyable, even though the screenplay is rather weak. At the centre is Starla Grady (McGregor), the star student at Splendona High who wins every competition and controls the school's entire social structure. Then the French exchange student Genevieve (Perabo) arrives. With her quirky clothes, goofy glasses and perky beret, she seems all shy and cute at first, but slowly begins to sabotage Starla's carefully planned life, seducing her parents (White and Smith), her boyfriend (Czuchry), her pals (Aycox and Adi) and even her French teacher (McKean). Only her brainy little brother (James) and a love-struck campus journalist (Ford) remain on her side as she fights to get her life back.

' No, the plot is nothing particularly special, and the writers don't bother to be too terribly clever, resorting to the cheap laugh more often than not--usually obvious puns and corny innuendo. But the characters are hilarious, and very well played by a slightly second-string cast. Why are there no top-line actors here (besides McKean and possibly Perabo and James)? There's nothing wrong with these performers at all--they nail the characters perfectly--but all of them resemble much bigger stars, which is rather distracting and just makes us wish there had been bigger-named stars involved. (Where's Kirsten Dunst when we need her?) But never mind, this is a brainless comedy that at least keeps us laughing fairly steadily with wry observations and a vicious sense of humour. The story's main twist is so glaringly obvious from the beginning that we're not remotely surprised. And at least it's a diverting way to spend 90 minutes, even if we forget everything immediately when the lights come up. But with a tighter script and a more stellar cast this could have joined the pantheon of great teen comedies.



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