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IN SHORT: C'est une filme terrible. Slammin' soundtrack, though.
Sometimes the unbelievable Hell that is Cranky's life rears up its ugly head and hisses in a slithery voice: "You have to see this movie! It's your job!" and then it cackles maniacally as I realize I've been Krazy Glued to the chair and have no hope of reaching the popcorn with golden topping and extra salt, to wallow in, as Ryan Phillipe plays at Being John Malkovich and Sarah Michelle Gellar stretches out her bitchy self and Buffy be damned in yet another remake of an old French book!
Simply put folks, if you're old enough to remember Malkovich, Pfeiffer, Close and Thurman in Dangerous Liaisons (or Milos Forman's late to the gate version, called Valmont) you are way to old to be sitting through the extreme teen version of the 1782 French Novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Laclos. V dot four, as it were, is strictly for teenkids and, based on conversations with my lady friends who have age appropriate kidlets, said wee ones are chomping at the bit.
This time out it's a pair of teenaged step-siblings making a wager on the deflowering of a younger kidlet. At its root, super rich super preppie Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar) is pissed off at a studmuffin named Court, 'cuz he's dumped her for a dimwit named Cecile (Selma Blair). Before she starts Senior Year, as no less than Student Body President, Kathryn wants the girl turned into a slut, to ruin her rep. It's a task too easy for the jaded manipulator that is her stepbrother Sebastian Valmont (Phillipe), he'd much prefer to take a whack (in all forms of the word) at professional virgin Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon), daughter of the school's new headmaster. At stake, a really cool car manufactured just before their parents were conceived or a night of pseudo incestuous coupling. That's where the "step" (as in "my Dad married your Mom so we're not really related) comes in.
Let's do the math on this one, friends. Two kidlets. Senior year. That makes 'em about seventeen, give or take a few months. Kathryn and Sebastian are bored to tears with life. They drink champagne in the afternoon, screw themselves silly at night, snort coke whenever they get bored. In their free time, they manhandle each other and trade pithy barbed insults. Need it be said that these kidlets have way too much money and free time? The explanation that the parental units are off in Bali, might work for the big screen, but I've known the rich and no one gets away with this much, um, number two.
Not for a second did Cranky believe that these twentysomething looking actors could be seventeen. Even if they were, it scares me to think that any teen could be so downright vicious. If indeed there are any kidlets out there like this, Cranky can only wish that Nostradamus correctly predicts the nuke-ing of the nation in July 1999. Either way, both villains will get their comeuppance by the time the credits roll.
Cranky has seen better acting on The Muppet Babies. Gellar and Phillipe are all pose and bluster. Their physical scenes would be pretty hot, were the characterization not something to make your skin crawl. Their dialogue is oh so mannered and pretentious that it is almost laughable. Actually, we did laugh. At least, for a change, Ryan Phillipe presents something interesting to watch. And Blair's Cecile is such a dim bulb that you'll feel no sympathy for her.
But this old fart has, honestly, seen worse. What makes Cruel Intentions absolutely unbearable is the incredibly awful underscore, most of it lifted from the song that accompanies the climax of the film. [Cranky thinks it's a song by Blur]. He'll fill it in when he gets the soundtrack, 'cuz of all things in the movie, it is the soundtrack songs that were truly bitchin'.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Cruel Intentions, he would have paid...
Knowing full well that this flick isn't meant for me. Teens'll pay the full price and be glad they did. Cranky is feeling sooooooooooooo old...
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