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loser poster
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Loser

Rated [PG-13], 98 minutes
Starring Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari; Gregg Kinnear
Written and Directed by Amy Heckerling
website: www.sony.com/loser

IN SHORT: Self-descriptive title.

Sometimes all the good stuff is in the details, which is the case with Amy Heckerling's Loser. Given her dead on funny teen take (in Clueless) all signs pointed to an equally funny dissection of college life, as seen this time not by the in crowd but by the ultimate outsider.

His name is Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs), who must maintain a B+ average or lose his full scholarship and meal plan. A country boy (the hat kind of looks like Minnesota) on full scholarship to a New York City University. He looks like a dork. He's too nice in comparison with the utter louts and rude boys in the Big Apple. Problem is, his three roommates know the true meaning of college life. It is to PARTY! It is to slip illegal drugs into the juice of the ladies so they can pass out and deliver some easy nasty. It is to break every dorm rule there is. It is to do as little schoolwork as possible, which means Paul's insistence on studying all day long has put a damper on their plans. So they get his butt kicked off campus.

Physically, there's enough slapstick in the first act that maybe the kidlets will find something funny. Problem is, it's not funny. There's not a good chuckle until fifty minutes in (I checked the watch) and Heckerling's script aims more at getting an "aw..." out of you than flat out laughs. Getting that reaction is kind of hard when all the men in the flick are jerks. Not all of 'em. Paul's dad (Dan Aykroyd) is sympathetically drawn, in a very small role.

The bright spot in Paul's life is the limited attention paid to him by Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari) who seems to feel sorry for the boy. Not romantically, mind you. She's bedded down with their English Lit professor Edward Alcott (Gregg Kinnear) who reads Screw Magazine and whose behavior redefines the meaning of the term "ass". Paul does ask her out, to an Everclear concert, but the girl gets waylaid by one of the former roommates, slipped a Roofie (sic) and OD's in the bathroom of the vet hospital that Paul is rooming in (the ex-roomies have gotten Paul to allow them access to the joint so that they can throw a party -- the dorm having cracked down on things like booze, drugs and sex). Paul saves Dora, discovers the affair with the Professor and, when he is told that she is disenchanted with the relationship, sends flowers in the Professor's name to her. Us rude, boorish New Yorkers have a word for that: sap.

Heckerling's script just isn't developed enough to make any of this interesting. Dora works nights as a waitress at a lap dance club, and takes the last train home to Westchester. Her mom is shown to be a real worry wort. But when Dora has her OD, leaving her in Paul's tender care for four days, not a peep. The woman would have called out the national guard -- at least that's the impression we were given. That the doctors at the vet hospital disappear almost immediately is almost understandable, except that none of it is believable.

The saving graces include the usual killer soundtrack of 80s or 80s soundalike rock. Plus, cameo appearances by Steven Wright, Andy Dick, Andrea Martin and David Spade. We'd tell you to buy the soundtrack CD instead of spending your cash on a ticket, but we don't know which of the multitude of songs is on it.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Loser, he would have paid...

$2.00

A Loser is what it is.

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