Forest Hills High School, situated somewhere in the torrid, hormone-agitated Pacific Northwest, is less an institution of learning than it is a sanitarium for the chronically aroused. Having apparently adopted a policy of "No child's behind left behind," Forest Hills High is a debauch on the brink of an orgy.
What better setting for "John Tucker Must Die," a comedy that confirms two things moviegoers have long suspected: 1) That all teenagers care about is sex, and 2) That what gets the go-ahead in contemporary Hollywood isn't a movie that will be entertaining, or even make sense, but one whose concept - and only its concept - can most easily be sold.
But that's only because I've seen it, and know there's even less to "John Tucker" than its thesis. A good-looking cast, yes, and you couldn't care less about any of the characters. A theme of empowerment? Sure, even if the young women involved are dumber than a bag of doorknobs. Direction? Betty Thomas couldn't direct you to McDonald's if she were standing in the parking lot.
But I would be willing to bet that "John Tucker Must Die" will even beat out "Pirates of the Caribbean" this weekend because it has everything the marketing department at Fox, or any studio, dreams about. Good-looking young people to put on the poster and a theme that appeals to audiences' worst instincts.
Let's face it: John Tucker (the very decent Jesse Metcalf), is the kind of guy most heterosexual men hate, I'm ashamed to say. He has looks, intelligence, captains the basketball team and dates the three best-looking girls in his school. Did I say hate? Make that despise. But his juggling act goes awry when the three betrayed babes - head cheerleader Heather (Ashanti), school journalist Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) and vegan activist Beth (Sophia Bush) - accidentally compare notes. They are not happy. However, everything they then do to ruin John socially, via herpes, thongs and estrogen in his diet supplement, only serves to make him more popular.
In an inversion of the Lindsay Lohan vehicle "Mean Girls," the three then enlist perpetual new kid in school, Kate (Brittany Snow), as their means of attaining vengeance. Dressing her up, and setting her off to drive the always-confident Tucker wild with self-doubt, they aim to surgically remove John's self-esteem.
Oh, but whatever could go wrong?
"John Tucker Must Die" is punctuated by pathetic slapstick, bared navels and an acceptance of rampant narcissism. And yet, if one is interested in seeing everything that's wrong with movies today -- from cynical marketing to the creative poverty of contemporary screenwriting - "Tucker" provides one-stop shopping.