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Saturday, March 10, 2001

'Get Over It' is disaster that's easy to get over

Poor adaptation of Shakespeare is an insult to the Bard and to anyone who pays to see it

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Get Over It" is the "Better Off Dead" for the current generation. You're familiar with the same stock characters, the generic story and the hype-generating script format, so unless you can't wait to see Sisqo (of "Thong Song" fame) act, don't waste your dime.
   Imagine this, the producer thought, we take a classic work of literature and set it in the throes of the cliquish confines of contemporary teenhood: high school. Original, right? That's a negative as we wade waist-deep in films such as "10 Things I Hate About You" (a trip on Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew") and "Crime and Punishment in Suburbia" (a teenybopper tackles Dostoevsky - yawn).
   Sure, the careful treatment given to "10 Things" made it resonate loudly and accurately throughout the minds of the jilted generation, but that was its goal from the start. "Get Over It" started with a different end in sight.
   The script by R. Lee Fleming Jr. tells the story of romance's circular nature - just as one ends, another begins. Allison (Melissa Sagemiller) dumps Berke (Ben Foster). Berke tries to get Allison back by lamenting her while intoxicated and acting in the school play, which she stars in with her new beau. Berke gets help from Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), who is his friend Felix's (Colin Hanks) younger sister, but he ends up falling in love with her - even though Allison wants him back.
   Fleming had that basic concept when he first shopped his script around (even though it mirrors the same plot as Savage Steve Holland's 1983 film "Better Off Dead"). Before this was produced, Fleming was hired to write "She's All That," the Freddie Prinze Jr. film that, like all other Freddie Prinze Jr. films, was empty and provided his fans another chance to drool.
   Afterwards, "Get Over It" resurfaced and Miramax co-chair Harvey Weinstein came up with the Shakespeare correlation. Fleming researched and rewrote and the result is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" messily woven into a teen-oriented genre.
   The Bard worked with "10 Things," but there are more than 10 things I hate about "Get Over It." Primarily, the A-list of actors and musicians are unable to boost this film beyond its chintzy concept.
   Dunst is clearly a competent actress - proven more so in her earlier work ("Interview with a Vampire") than her recent films (the flesh-fest "Bring it On"). But her role in "Get Over It" has the depth of a little sister's crush on her older brother's friends - oh wait, that is her character. She plays coy and cute and she's done for the day.
   Ben Foster's perma-quizzical facial expressions don't quite cover the emotional gamut, leaving his character decidedly one-sided. Colin Hanks looks and acts similar to his "Bosom Buddies"-era father (minus the big-'80s hair). Sisqo isn't as bad as you'd expect, mostly because his role is so minor it doesn't leave much room for error.
   The direction is surprisingly clean and innovative, particularly in the first third of the film. Tommy O'Haver ("Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss") uses a funky tone with the fun opening number, done with '50s-era musical flavor featuring Vitamin C marching down the street covering "Love Will Keep Us Together."
   The pop culture element continues to flow strong with this film as Sisqo sings his way through the credits to the tune of Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," Carmen Electra makes a cameo, and one of the characters belongs to a Brit boy band similar to BBMak.
   But not even a few crackpot covers or lyrical stingers from the Bard save this doomed film, which is ultimately more of an insult, not a tribute, to Shakespeare.
  


Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at bacar@caller.com


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