'John Tucker Must Die': Girls Behaving Badly

Friday, July 28, 2006

"John Tucker Must Die" is one of those teen romantic comedies set at Britney Spears Memorial High School, where everyone's hot, honey blonde and hooking up.

Appropriately enough, the lead role -- a putative misfit named Kate -- is played by Brittany Snow, whose generic cuteness recalls a young Reese Witherspoon or the wholesome Olsen twin. When Kate starts at a new school, she discovers that the BMOC -- Big Manipulator of Cheerleaders -- has been three-timing a bevy of precocious classmates; she leads the girls in a sadistic revenge spree that includes putting his face on an ad for herpes awareness and spiking his bulking powder with estrogen.

"John Tucker Must Die" (which could have been called "In the Company of Mean Girls") features a clutch of rising stars, including "Desperate Housewives' " Jesse Metcalfe, Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel and the R&B star Ashanti. But despite doing its best to jiggle, giggle and ogle its way into a niche somewhere between "Heathers" and "American Pie," it becomes just another forgettable pastiche of sight gags and pop-culture references. At one point, a would-be suitor of Kate's describes her affection for old-school Elvis Costello, obscure podcasts and Dave Eggers: "She's deep, man." And this movie isn't, dude.

-- Ann Hornaday

John Tucker Must Die PG-13, 87 minutes Contains sexual content and profanity. Area theaters.

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