Release Date: July 21, 2000
Starring: Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Greg
Kinnear, Zak Orth, Tom
Sadoski, Jimmi Simpson, & Dan
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Runtime: 98 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Amy Heckerling
Executive Producer: John M. Eckert
Producer: Amy Heckerling & Twink Caplan
Writer: Amy Heckerling
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Jason Biggs of BOYS AND GIRLS stars as Paul Tannek, a scholarship student from a small town and a close-knit family. Thrust into New York City with the hopes of getting an education, Paul’s new roommates Chris, Adam and Noah seem intent on hindering this goal. They bully him, treat him disrespectfully and even blame him. They take full advantage of the fact that their parents are paying for their education, while Paul must keep up his GPA in order to remain at the school. Eventually, the trio goes to the authorities, lying as they describe Paul’s habits and infliction, when in reality they’re describing themselves. Paul, knowing the accusations against him are false, agrees anyway and moves into a room at a veterinary hospital, volunteering for rent.
Paul’s troubles, however, don’t stop there. His first day walking into Professor Alcott’s English Literature class, he tumbles down the lecture hall steps. With the class laughing at him, he stumbles over to a seat next to a quirky, but kind girl. She asks if he’s all right, and he answers her, and is immediately interested. Noting her favorite band, Everclear, on her notebook, he conjures up an idea to get to know her better.
Paul later discovers the girl’s name is Dora and that she works in a seedy nightclub to pay for school. She also is dating Professor Alcott, though he treats her with no respect. Meanwhile, Paul’s ex-roommates convince Paul to let them use the veterinary facility for a party, with terrible results. Paul and Dora begin to grow together with an understanding of being treated like an outcast, although they often put themselves right back into the same situations. Paul treats Dora with respect, dignity and love, but Dora has a hard time seeing past her dreamy façade of Professor Alcott. Eventually, however, true love prevails, with the losers taking all.
This refreshing movie is not a tale of the “Ugly Duckling” retold, but a revelation of maintaining integrity despite not fitting in with other people. Instead of an ending similar to seeing the beautiful swan appearing in the fairy tale, we see the attractiveness of inner worth in the main character, reflecting honesty and principle despite the unethical world around him. Both Biggs and Suvari come across genuinely in their roles, and there are many humorous moments that keep the movie lighthearted.
Regrettably, there are some scenes of alcohol and drug use, implied fornication, partial nudity, and other elements that mar this movie which promotes doing the right thing.
This is not a tale of the “Ugly Duckling” retold, but a revelation of maintaining integrity despite not fitting in with other people. The leads are genuine, and there are many humorous moments. Regrettably, however, there are some scenes of alcohol and drug use, implied fornication, partial nudity, and other elements that mar this otherwise moral movie.