The basic Breakfast Club format was not invented with The Breakfast Club, of course, but that's the emblematic film for taking a bunch of different teenage stereotypes and tossing them together to live and learn and love and grow and show their underpants. In this latest take on that time-honored classic formula, Scarlett Johansson's cherry-printed panties star as The Rich Girl Who Is Rebelling Against Her Unloving Father. You may remember the role from the eyeliner-smeared performance by Ally Sheedy. Well, Johansson is at least a good actress, whereas Sheedy is currently happy to take your order.
It's kind of a shame, actually, to see Johansson give such a fine performance in such a crap film, but at least it's nice to see that she can still pull out the stops, given her truly awful turn in last year's The Girl With the Pearl Earrings Looks Knowingly out the Window While Dappled Light Illuminates Her Flawless Skin in the Deeply Meaningful Morning of 16th Century Delft.
Other than Johansson though, pretty much everyone else in the cast spells "acting" with an "s," as in "sucking." Erika Christensen, who would be best known for her role in SwimFan, if, in fact, she was best known for anything, sleepwalks through the part of Anna the Girl Who Gets Straight A's but Can't Stand up to Her Parents and Is Trapped in the Unwanted Role of Good Girl When She Really Just Wants to Go Wild and Travel Around Europe and Make It With Non-Threatening, Disease-Free Teen Boys.
Also sub-awful is Chris Evans as Kyle. Kyle is the White Male Who Must Lead Them. As such, he's pretty much obliged to be completely characterless, and he takes that obligation very seriously.
The only ray of light outside of Johansson is Leonardo Nam, who plays The Stoner Who Is Secretly Super-Intelligent but Smokes a Lot of Dope Because His Mom Died. While any role that can be played by imitating Tommy Chong is not to be considered the world's most challenging role, Nam at least brings some charm to the part. He mugs and rolls his eyes and goofs it up in a hammy sort of way that actually makes him endearing. Plus, I think it's high time that American teens had a good stoner role model again, what with all the horrors in the Middle East and middle-aged pop-stars flashing their breasts at the Super Bowl and such.
Anyway, this group of teens decides that it would be a good idea to steal the answers to the SATs. Each has his or her own special reason for doing this, and they share their special reasons in a special-feelings moment before the actual heist.
Then, Scarlett Johansson jacks her Wonderbra up to her eyeballs and she and Stoner Kid, Jock, Party Boy, Straight-A Student and Stereotype Lad all go to pull of the lamest heist sequence in cinema history. While the heist is pretty weak, there's some much weaker self-discovery stuff that occurs during it, so it's a good idea to get your hopes down.
Everyone, of course lives and learns and grows as a result of becoming felons, and they all reveal their new flowering post-pubescent selfhoods in acts of rebellious growthfulness and discount teen profundity. The ending, needless to say, is incredibly awful and a total cop-out wherein everyone suddenly becomes upright and moral and, may I add, growthful.
Director Brian Robbins previously made cult-favorite and all-time-most-unwatchable film Good Burger, as well as the passably entertaining Varsity Blues and a movie that somehow managed to dumb down pro-wrestling, Ready to Rumble, so it's not like a lot was expected of this particular outing.
Still, it would be nice if movies made for and about teens had some real intelligence to them. Wouldn't we much rather have our precious stock of American teens see something with some subtlety and thought, just to challenge them a little bit, rather than a film that follows a formula so slavishly that you could pretty much walk out of the movie any time you wanted and still tell everyone exactly how it ended?
Perhaps, though, even the filmmakers knew what a mistake they were making. At the end of the movie, the screen is filled with a doodle-covered piece of paper, and the words "This Sucks" are written across it. If nothing else, I must applaud the honesty.