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Boys and Girls   B-

Dimension Films

Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Robert Iscove
Writers: The Drews (Andrew Lowery, Andrew Miller)
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Claire Forlani, Jason Biggs, Amanda Detmer, Heather Donahue.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Boys and Girls is a romantic comedy so predictable and formulaic that it ends exactly how you think it will. It has scenes and situations that you'll recall from various films of the same mold, and fans of When Harry Met Sally will definitely see some plot similarities. This one's geared toward teenagers, and it's slight, for sure, but it's also so breezily enjoyable that it won me over early on and never once lost its irresistible charm.

Ryan and Jennifer first meet when they are about 12 years old, on an airplane, and there is immediate friction between the two of them. They're both smart and opinionated, and their first wittily scripted conversation ends with Jennifer calling Ryan ugly. They run into each other off and on throughout high school and college, until they finally settle into a comfortable friendship while at UC Berkeley.

Played by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Claire Forlani, Ryan and Jennifer are polar opposites. Ryan is bookish and kinda nerdy, and he majors in structural engineering and knows what he wants from life. Jennifer is a free spirit, majoring in Latin without a clue of what she wants to do with that -- other than do post-grad work in Italy.

Going into this movie, we all know it's just a matter of time before these two end up in bed together -- after a string of failed relationships for both of them. But what will sex do to their friendship? The answer is obvious and not-so-obvious at the same time, since the screenwriters (The Drews) do a nice role reversal here that avoids traditional stereotyping and ultimately rings true and respects the characters' personalities.

Jason Biggs, who was last seen violating baking goods in American Pie, plays Ryan's roommate Hunter, a pathological liar who can't seem to score with the ladies no matter how hard he tries. Biggs provides many of the film's biggest laughs. Amanda Detmer plays Jennifer's roomy Amy, a sweetly lovable therapy junkie. The Blair Witch Project's Heather Donahue pops up in a brief role as a love interest for Ryan, as does Alyson Hannigan (the band camp girl from American Pie).

But the most sparkling performance in Boys and Girls surely goes to Claire Forlani (she's also the main reason I endured the otherwise forgettable Meet Joe Black). She has a natural grace and charm that's breathtaking. The only weak link in the cast would be leading man Freddie Prinze Jr. Sure, he's likable enough (as much as it kills me to say that about the teenybopper star), but the movie would have benefited from an actor with a little more depth and range than Prinze displays here.

I went into this movie ready to trash it as yet another stupid teen comedy without a brain in its feeble little head (see my review of Whatever It Takes), but I'm happy to say that I can't do that. The characters in Boys and Girls are so lovable and well-written that even though the plot feels familiar every step of the way, it charms you into going along for the ride. It has some clever dialogue, lots of laughs, and some scenes that are quite touching. I liked this one, and I'm not ashamed to admit it (well, maybe a little).

Review published 06.23.2000.

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