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Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah, Clayne Crawford

Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Karen Janszen
Produced by: Denise DiNovi, Hunt Lowry
Distributor: Warner Brothers

US: 25/01/02 UK: 13/09/02

Rites of passaege moviie set in the lowlands of North Carolina in the mid 1990s. Jaded, aimless high school senior (Shane West) he falls in love with a guileless young woman (Mandy Moore) he and his friends once scorned. More like Dawson's Geek than anything profound.

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Dawson's Geek - Shane West cuddles up to Mandy Moore in a corny coming of age drama

Seeing as how it's based on a weepy Nicholas Sparks novel, it's not surprising that this teen romantic drama is an almost unbearably weepy film. It's hard to imagine anyone besides 12-year-old girls falling for it, but I guess you never know. Landon (West) is the big man on campus at his North Carolina high school--tough and brooding, magnetic and intelligent. His mother (Hannah) worries that he's squandering his future when he's sentenced to community service for a dangerous stunt. While helping the needy kids he's forced to get to know the school's virginal goody-goody Jamie (Moore), daughter of the town's stern preacher (Coyote). Not only does Landon discover that he actually likes being a good guy for a change, but he also falls for the girl, who he never noticed was so stunningly beautiful, both inside and out. Aw!

There's more of course, and as you watch the film there are little hints from the very beginning as to where it's going. And you can't quite believe that it actually goes there. The predictable, obvious plot is so swampy and melodramatic that it feels like a 'Very Special Episode' of Dawson's Creek ... without the edge. Shankman (The Wedding Singer) was probably not the right choice to direct it either, as he wallows in the schmaltz, never ever undercutting it with badly needed humour. He lurches from genuinely touching emotions to unbelievable lapses in logic, all underscored with a far-too indulgent collection of pop tunes (Moore even listens to herself on the radio at one point!). The cast is very good, especially West, who actually makes his character authentic within the constrains of the weepy teen movie genre; and there's another startlingly unselfconscious turn from Hannah. But it's all so corny and earnest that it hurts!



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