Monday, March 14, 2011

A Decade of Dreck #47: New Best Friend

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more information about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far. 

As we've been discussing quite a bit on the blog this past week, 90's nostalgia is so in right now. Part of the fun about the Decade of Dreck project is the opportunity to revisit the earliest days of the Twenty-First Century and see and remember just what they were like.

If 2002's New Best Friend is any indication, those days were really shitty. Everything about this one seems like shallow calculation on the part of those responsible for the film's existence. Characters act like reheated ideas of what college kids are like; there isn't an ounce of anything real to be had.

Which, you would figure, wouldn't be that huge of a problem for a cheesy whodunnit set at an elite university but because it doesn't bother to do anything but go through the motions of producing whitebread coed debauchery, New Best Friend becomes a grueling exercise in schlock.

Troubled college girl from the Wrong Side Of The Tracks Alicia Campbell ODs on coke and winds up in a coma. Rookie sheriff Taye Diggs begins investigating what he believes to be an attempted murder, and all of Alicia's social circle is suspect.  What he discovers is a sordid web of "sexy" backstabbing and intrigue among rich college kids that really says nothing new about rich kids, college kids, or copious amounts of pure, pharmaceutical grade cocaine.

As I had alluded earlier, part of what really grinds my gears about this movie is the completely fake feeling given off by its depiction of college kids. The usual suspects/Alicia's friends seem less like undergraduates and more like doppelgängers of the Plastics from Mean Girls. They rule over the not-at-all-generic-and-fake Colby University with an collective iron fist; every character in the film is either one of their "sexy", rich confederates or literal trailer trash like Alicia. Honestly: I'm pretty sure it's easy enough to pay no mind to the socs at a large university. It's not like their weekly coke orgies draw the crowds from your Magic booster draft.

I keep putting "sexy" in quotation marks because the movie is so in-your-face with how "sexy" it and its cast of thirtysomethings are. Just about every ten minutes, someone has sex with someone. Just about every female character is bisexual and very comfortable with making out with other women in rooms full of strangers. Sub-softcore lesbian sex scenes rage on with neither provocation nor titilation. I never thought I could be so bored with watching an endless barrage of Sapphism.

On the subject of endless barrages, literally every time Taye Diggs shows up to interview a sexy female suspect, they immediately try to seduce him. Now, I know Mr. Diggs is a devilishly handsome man but by the time the third or fourth college girl has thrown herself at him, it must stop exciting him in any way and just becomes sad.

There's also all sorts of lovely late-90's (I suspect this stinker spent a lot of time on some studio's shelf before being released)/early 2000's idiosyncracies such as the omnipresence of glow sticks at parties and a character who carries around a handheld video camera like its the coolest thing ever. An excellent piece of bizarrely misplaced parents-just-not-understanding occurs when Regina George's the principal rich girl's (who has kind of a "January Jones meets Claire Danes" sort of thing going on) dad orders her to clean up her act and get better grades lest she be cut off: "There's more to life than sitting around doing drugs and listening to music!" It honestly seems as if he believes his little girl is getting stoned and listening to Bob Dylan on vinyl instead of blowing coke and making out with other women for the amusement of the lacrosse team.

Did I mention this is a murder mystery? I kind of forgot.

New Best Friend is ranked #70 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 5% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.