In addition to being stupid (which almost seems like a prerequisite), Loser manages to be very offensive. Again, the teen movie moves from high school to college, but the adolescent mentality is still out in full force. It's the familiar story of two people who are completely different yet made for each other. Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs, Boys and Girls, American Pie) is a freshman, alone for the first time in the big city. Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari, American Pie, American Beauty) is also a freshman. Paul is the naive, nice guy only found in movies, while Dora is the down-on-her luck girl trying to survive college.
Paul ends up with three roommates from hell, Adam (Zak Orth, Snow Falling on Cedars, Down to You), Chris (Tom Sadowski), and Noah (Jimmi Simpson). All they want to do is party. They drink, play loud music, play jokes on Paul, and worst of all, drug women and try to get them to sleep with them. What part of the last thing is funny? It is actually really disgusting to take something like this lightly. Even worse, in a comedy, there is so much opportunity to give these three idiots their due, but no real punishment occurs. Dora is dating Professor Edward Alcott (Greg Kinnear, What Planet Are You From, Mystery Men), and working as a waitress in a strip bar to makes ends meet. Paul and Dora meet in Alcott's class, and hit it off. Paul has a huge crush on Dora, but is afraid to do anything. Deep down, Dora likes Paul, but her infatuation with Alcott causes her to overlook Paul. Of course, Alcott is a jerk to Dora, and everyone realizes it except for her. There is no doubt as to the ending of Loser.
Paul's roommates find out about Alcott and Dora, and blackmail Alcott for an A in his class. Alcott thinks that Paul is also in on the scam. But he cannot be! He is so innocent, so altruistic and shallow that he is made of cardboard, along with the rest of the characters. All of them basically embody one trait; the rest of the movie is a puppet show. Paul is not a loser. He just needs time to adapt. Leave it to shallowness to try to rob him of his individuality. Biggs does what he can with this role. It calls for the same physical comedy he is known for, although the character of Paul is more wholesome than his previous roles. As for Suvari, this is a huge step down from her last role in American Pie, in terms of both the acting and the role itself. The same goes for Kinnear.
The saddest thing about the movie is that it is by Amy Heckerling. With her films Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, she defined high school for two different generations of teenagers. Both are classics in their own way. She is also responsible for the popular but less entertaining Look Who's Talking movies. Loser is a clear misstep. Unlike her previous films, Loser lacks a certain wit and charm that will ensure its popularity for years to come. But if Heckerling is able to do one thing, it is picking out a cast that will undoubtedly become more famous (please notice the omission of the word "talented" in this case). The three principal characters should all have good thing ahead for them (Kinnear is already well established as an actor). In the meantime, Orth is already trolling the teen movie beat (he played a porn start in Down to You), and Simpson and Sadowski will surely follow. Loser belongs at the bottom of the current crop of popular teenage movies.
|Haro Rates It: Really Bad.|
|1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated PG-13 for drug content, crude sexual material, and language.|
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