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Ain’t Love Bland?
Let it be known that Down to You is not the worst movie of the decade, the 21st century, or the third millennium. I can escape embarrassing myself by making such a pronouncement thanks only to local screening schedules—that is to say, I’ve already seen Reindeer Games. Down to You is actually worse, but the bar is lower for feel-good teen romances than it is for ultraviolent 10th-generation Tarantino heist flicks.
So, in a tribute to the game shows that have revitalized prime-time television viewing (what a relief that is to us all, huh?) let’s play Did Anyone Read the Script? Moviegoer, come on down!
Al (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is 20; Imogen (Julia Stiles) is 19. Everywhere they go they are plied with grown-up sauce: a nice burgundy at one of the many porn-star parties the college students attend, a flirty red at Al’s father’s house, a pinot noir at an Indian restaurant, beer at the local tavern, and champagne at any number of cheesily over-the-top birthday celebrations they share. It’s today’s New York City they’re talking about. For 10 points: Did anyone read the script?
When Al, a sophomore, and Imogen, a freshman, get together, they indulge in all kinds of romantic follies derived from screenplay-writing courses. Writer-director Kris Isacsson (who?) boldly bypasses the impulsive-jumping-in-the-fountain scene and the impulsive-snowball-fight scene for the classic she-lip-syncs-a-sexy-song-in-public scene. Here you have two adorable young actors who have guaranteed brighter futures than such a piece of tripe would indicate. Yet they agree to do that cringe-inducing thing where everyone in the dorm’s common room gathers around with smiles and hurrahs while Imogen incompetently vamps to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” as if it’s much more important that these stiffs hook up than, say, an onlooker pass the midterm for which he was heretofore studying. I ask you: Did anyone read the script?
As an apparently parent-free freshman at NYU, Imogen has the resources to rent out an entire art gallery—her favorite art gallery—to introduce Al to her secret soul (avec champagne, bien sur). Seeing as how they could talk fatuously about art anywhere in the city without ever bringing up her poor taste in it, and cop champers on any street corner, for 20 points, readers: Did anyone think to read the script?
You’re doing great and have earned yourself a bonus question. Stiles, a radiant thing with shining blond hair and an enchantingly curvaceous mouth, allows herself to be photographed in close-up (for the scene in which the couple first make love) with an unsightly cold sore on her lip. For 30 bonus points: Did anyone watch the dailies?
Now for the either/or round, 50 points each. Making a teen romance requires some instructional aspect, usually something like: Be yourself and don’t judge on appearances because he/she is really hot anyway if only he’d cut his hair/she’d take off those glasses. In Down to You, which message is more important? (a) Smashing your car into a tree while driving drunk is a symbol of your relationship? Or (b) shagging like Thumper on Viagra and going to porn-star parties is what teens do?
Assuming that a fat, unprepossessing college kid (Zak Orth) does stumble his way into starring in an adult film, and assuming that his co-star (Selma Blair) is an MIT dropout with a jones for pancakes, what is the likeliest future for said college kid? (a) He drifts into the drug-addled and dehumanizing world of porn only to repent and straighten out his life? Or (b) he becomes a sort of William F. Buckley of skin flicks, touring the “university lecture circuit” in full Orson Welles drag, complete with fur coat and travel liquor case, saying things like “Do enlighten me” in a mid-Atlantic accent faker than Madonna’s?
You choose (b). Well done! Let’s move on to the lightning round.
1. When in college, how often do they study? Never? Good.
2. A year after meeting, where do the lead characters live? That’s right! In separate, spectacularly fancy apartments furnished with tasteful Zen-boho minimalism.
3. What film most influenced the pointlessly showy camera style? The Matrix, correct.
4. What essential ingredient would Al’s dad (Henry Winkler), a chef, carry in a mobile kitchen he envisions having as part of a food/reality-TV show where he roams the country, breaking into people’s houses to show them how to cook and eat well? Oh, I’m sorry. The answer is garlic powder.
5. Why do Al and Imogen break up? No, not because she should have slept with gorgeous Ashton Kutcher (from TV’s That ’70s Show) much sooner. Try to remember: Logic will not help you.
And for our all-or-nothing final question? What brings these two sleek yuppies, a mere few months out of college, back together? Well, we’re going to give it to you, since we have no idea, either.
Congratulations! You have aced Did Anyone Read the Script? and won the grand prize of not having to see the movie. Join us next month for a round of How Many Excuses to See Charlize Theron’s Butt Hanging Out of Her Shorts in Subzero Weather Can John Frankenheimer Devise? Thanks again. You were terrific. CP