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  • 12A
  • Comedy, Romance
  • 2006
  • 93 mins

John Tucker Must Die

John Tucker Must Die


Three teenage girls and their new friend concoct absurd revenge plots against an unfaithful boy. Jesse Metcalfe from 'Desperate Housewives' stars as the jock who proves hard to bring down


The terrible legacy of films like Heathers, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls is that they encourage hope for the whole teen comedy genre. Fortunately, tripe like John Tucker Must Die (which ruthlessly pillages ideas from its predecessors) restores a sense of proportion.

This film's principle 'joke' revolves around a jock being caught in public wearing a lady's thong - and it is a joke deemed so uproariously funny by the filmmakers that it is recycled (twice) as the final credits roll.

Other dubious highlights include muscle builder being replaced with oestrogen supplements, and that last resort for a screenwriter low on ideas, a climactic foodfight. If you are wetting your pants with laughter just at the thought of all this, then John Tucker Must Die is probably for you; everyone else should beware.

When cheerleader Heather (Ashanti), vegan Beth (Bush) and brain Carrie (Kebbel) discover that the school basketball hero John Tucker (Metcalfe) has been three-timing them, they turn to 'invisible' newcomer Kate (Snow) with an attractive proposition: if she agrees to help them get revenge by making the cad fall in love with her and then breaking his heart as he broke theirs, then they will admit her to their popular clique.

Cue 'Pygmalion'-like makeovers, backfiring plans, confusion of the heart, and every other cliché in the tweenie book - minus any charm, humour or entertainment, but plus lots of conspicuous product placement. And worst of all it lacks venom or viciousness; for despite the promise of its title, the blackboard jungle has seldom seemed so amiable.

There are two main 'lessons' for the kids in John Tucker Must Die. The first is that girl-power bromide, "Be yourself", as though anyone could ever be anything else. And the second concerns true beauty being on the inside - except that, this being Hollywood's notion of high school, everybody is preternaturally beautiful on the outside too (even Kate's mum Lori is the "hot" Jenny McCarthy).

In a minimal nod towards realism, there is one token fat guy, Tommy (played by an actor called, no kidding, Fatso-Fasano); and in case this does not already smack of desperation, he also conveniently happens to be the school's token black guy. Snow herself is so distractingly like a young Jennifer Aniston in appearance that her supposed invisibility can never be credited. Even at the film's beginning, when she is an outcast and a 'loser', there has been barely any attempt to make her look dowdy. How fortunate, with such looks, such (relative) charisma, such (sort of) intelligence, that she should have inner beauty as well.

All the teen characters in John Tucker Must Die act about half their age, while being played by performers who look (and are) well into adulthood. The result is a film that will make even idiots feel clever, while making everyone else feel like a valuable hour and a half of their lifetime has slowly ticked away. Give it a miss, and rest assured: he doesn't die anyway.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Arielle Kebbell, Sophia Bush, Ashanti , Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Jenny McCarthy, Fatso Fasano, Penn Badgley
  • Director: Betty Thomas
  • Screen Writer: Jeff Lowel
  • Producer: Bobby Cooper, Michael Birnbaum
  • Photographer: Anthony B Richmond
  • Composer: Richard Gibbs

In a nutshell

Rarely has a title promised so much, and delivered so little. John Tucker Must Die is toothless, gormless, witless, and, worst of all, deathless.

by Anton Bitel

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