(PG-13) Two and a half stars
I’ll keep this short, because how much can you say about cotton candy? John Tucker Must Die is a silly, shallow, but not unpleasant teen comedy. It’s shallow and forgettable, but some of the gags are funny and at least the story isn’t as mean as it sounds. When a group of girls (Ashanti Douglas, Sophia Bush and Arielle Kebbel) discover that hunky high school sports star John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe, the shirtless lawn mower from season one of Desperate Housewives) has been stringing them along, they seek revenge, teaming up with a new female student (Brittany Snow) to cook up a series of wacky schemes to undermine his status and break his heart the same way he broke theirs.
This is the kind of film where each character gets one descriptive phrase. John is a sweet-natured horn-dog. Of the three wronged girls, Heather (Douglas) is an assertive cheerleader, Beth (Bush) a vegan activist and Carrie (Kebbel) an aspiring reporter. New kid in town Kate (Snow) is lonely, and her single mother, Lori (Jenny McCarthy), who dates losers, is even lonelier. Finally, there’s John’s younger brother, Scott (Penn Badgley), who’s forlorn.
You now know everything there is to know about the characters.
The hook of the film is that John appears to be a born winner. No matter what the girls do, it ends up working out fine for him. They dope up his sports drink to raise his estrogen level and make him feel what they feel and he throws a hissy fit on the basketball court (“My nipples hurt!” he cries to his coach. “And why is everything always about what you want? What about my needs?”). At first, the other guys laugh at him, but that changes when they see him approached by a number of girls turned on by his sensitive nature.
And so it goes, through a few other bits, until it all works out just the way you know it will. Aimed primarily at teen-age girls, John Tucker Must Die is a perfectly serviceable little dispos-a-movie. Nothing more or less.